Internet Addiction and Narrative Therapy

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Introduction

Technological advancement is one of the most celebrated things in the 21st century. There have been innovations and technological development in the last fifty years than there ware in the previous duration of human existence. Advancement in information technology has brought many changes social, economic and other aspects of people’s lives. New innovations in information technology have made information more available, which in considered to be the drive to modern society.

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Internet technology is one of the new innovations that have brought significant changes to people’s lives. Internet technology helped to reduce cost of communication, make information easily available, stimulate economic activities and break geographic barriers. Despite of positive contribution of internet to modern society, it has been associated with various problems. Questions have been asked concerning the content of internet and its social, cultural and psychological effects.

One of the areas that have attracted attention is internet addiction, especially with the youth. Uncontrolled usage of internet can have very negative effects in the society. Addiction to internet among the youths is a problem that should be handled with urgency in order to help the society to celebrate the fruits of technological advancement.

Internet technology has brought new challenges in the society. Internet usage among the youth raise more questions than answers. Many people spend a lot of time browsing the internet. Internet usage is not a problem per se but the excessive time spent is a concern. The ways in which people use internet have raised debates in mental health. The emerging internet addiction has been a mental health concern for some times (Helpguide.org, 2010, par 3).

Many people, especially the youth spend a lot of their time using internet to an extent that in their personal, economical, and social lives. Internet addiction is a challenge to many mental health practitioners. Most of them seem not prepared nor having better strategies for handling the issue. Many therapies have been developed to address various psychological problems in the society. The effective of a therapy to address psychological problems is dependent on various factors including the problem itself. The approach taken to handle a psychological problem affects the result and determines whether a patient can be helped.

Narrative therapy is among the therapies that can be very effective in addressing internet addiction among the youth. The non-combatant approach of narrative therapy is effective for addressing the addiction, which is considered to be normal phenomenon by the youths.

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Growth in internet usage

Internet is a relatively new technology. The technology is by itself neutral, designed to make research easy among military and academic agencies. Usage of the new technology expanded to other areas. Today, almost every family in developed countries has constant access to internet. The usage of internet has also expanded. Internet is no longer perceived as a reserve for academic of military research. Today, internet is used an important channel of communication and a source of information on various issues. Internet technology has led to innovation in various applications. Email, social networking tools and online computer games are some of additional innovations in internet technology. Although internet usage has increased in all groups of people, it is more prevalent among the youth (Smith, 2008, par 5).

About ninety percent of the youths in our society have constant access to internet. Inclusion of internet technology in portable devices such as mobile phones has increased the usage internet among the youths. It is a common phenomenon to observe young people using their mobile phones to access internet in cars, in public places, on the way and even in class rooms. Internet usage is not negative per se but, as any technology, uncontrolled usage can lead to negative effects to the user and the society.

Internet usage among the youth is a bit different as used by the older folk. Older people use internet for more serous things such as applying for jobs, working, research, and communication. Among the youths, internet is highly used for leisurely activities such and online games, watching online movies and social networking. New innovations in internet technology have favored the youth. New innovations such social networking tools and online video support tools have been popular with youths. Facebook, Twitter and other networking tools have replaced the conventional ways of social interaction. Virtual friends through the social networking tools are quickly changing the definition of a friend.

A friend is no longer a person that one spends most of time with, talk to, and play together or with other features that were known over a conventional friends. Many youths spend a lot of time relating with their virtual friends via the networking tools. Social networking has various benefits. This innovation has made it possible for an individual to have virtual friends from any part of the world. One is assured of a friend to chat with at any time of the day. As much as this is beneficial, it turns to a problem when the time spend interferes with other day-to-day activities.

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Availability of all sort of information that quenches the thirst for information has been a major motivation for internet usage among the youths. The youths can easily access any information of their interest by using personal computers, mobile phones and other devices. Those interested with games can easily access recent information on their teams, players or any other issues. Availability of information in the internet has positive as well as negative effects on youths.

Although the availability help to keep the youth informed and updated on various issues, it can expose the youth to unhealthy information. The youths have exclusive access to information without constant monitoring from their parents. Thus, the youths can access information that may not be healthy to them. Some of the information on the internet has addictive effects on youths. Some youths may spend excessive accessing certain information on daily basis that the habit cuts the youth from the society.

Internet Addiction

Internet addiction is a major problem for modern youths. Recent reports show that some youth are becoming addicted to internet in almost similar way in which a person become addicted alcohol, gabling or even drugs. This addiction has severe effect to an addict youth; it may lead to low performance is school, impend development of social skills, separate a youth from the rest of the family, and may lead to other psychological problems.

Addictions such as addiction to gambling addiction, overeating and compulsive sexual behavior have been widely studied. Various models have been developed to explain and offer assistance to such addiction (DiClemente, 2003, p. 78). Similar models have also been used to explain addiction to technology such as overuse of computer games, obsessive video game playing, addiction to watching technology and other challenges in using technology. Internet addiction, however, is somehow new. Addiction to internet has not been widely studied but it is evident overuse of internet is a major challenge in the society.

Overuse of internet by the youth is a major challenge to modern families. Many parents complain that their sons and daughters spend too much time using the internet. In some families, use of internet has been the main cause of conflict between parents and their sons and daughters. The parents are not able to control the way their sons and daughters spend their time with the internet. The excessive time that some youths spend with the internet is a major area of concern. By spending a lot of time using the internet, the youths are not able to have enough time for other important things such as studies, playing, socializing and relating to other members of the family.

The internet is an important improvement in technology that has unintentional negative effects. Other innovations in the past had very noble intentions but, in one way or the other, lead to some negative effect. Atomic technology considered to be a major breakthrough early twentieth century but led to negative effects when the technology was used for war fair. Other innovations such as television are very important for communication but they have led to various challenges in the society.

The effect of technology comes in different ways. Some of the effects are obvious and tragic while others build up slowly by slowly (Yellowlees & Marks, 2005, p. 49). Subtle effects of technological advancement may not be easy to observe and may be ignored. The effects, when not addressed may lead to major effects to an individual or the society at large.

Addiction is not a new thing. Many people have been psychologically and physically depended on various substance and behaviors. The compulsive trend associated with addiction is not considered bad per se but for the negative effects that can follow. Addiction, in general, leads to various effects in relationships, families, employment, financial status, and physical and mental health. It is a fact that substances such as mood altering drugs and alcohol can lead to psychological and physical dependence (Young, 2004, p. 48).

Other behaviors such as gambling, work, shopping, sex and eating have also been observed to have addictive effects. Addiction has also been associated with overuse of some technology such as television. In the recent past there has been more attention to the addictive effect of behaviors. Some results show that the compulsive effects of some behaviors are close to those of substances and alcohol. Similar compulsive effects have also been observed with internet use.

Addiction is a major challenge to youths in the modern society. Youths seem to be more venerable to addiction to substances and behaviors. The teenage age is considered to be a period of discovery. The youth try to explore and experience many things in life. Led by curiosity, the youths may experiment dangerous substance of behaviors. A noble thing may also turn to have negative effect on a youth. For example, genuine love for games may turn out to have negative effects when and individual becomes a fanatic. Addiction to internet is a negative effect of a noble technology. The addictive effects, when not addressed, can lead to severe effect on the youths. Various techniques are used to address addiction. Various therapies are used to help and addict to overcome the compulsive tendency and gain their control over addictive substances or behaviors.

The internet has many positive effects in modern society. In fact, internet is considered to be major drive toward globalization and globalization. Internet is a major source of information, an affordable means of communication, a source of entertainment and a place one can socialize. Internet plays an important role to youths; it provides them with variety of information, entertainment and social networking. A youth can establish many virtual friends across all parts of the world that he or she can socialize. Addiction to internet is an effect that results without the knowledge of intention of the user. In fact many youths do not know that they are addicted to the technology.

To offer assistance to youths that are addicted to internet, one should be considerate of the fact that the addiction is an effect that results from normal usage (Yellowlees & Marks, 2005, p.51).The best therapy is a therapy that addresses the problem objectively without confusing the addiction with the addict youth. Narrative therapy can be very helpful to an addict youth for its ability to separate a problem from the person who is having the problem.

Narrative Therapy

Narrative therapy is an important form on psychotherapy that makes use of narrative to provide help to people with psychological and emotional problems. The therapy came to being in 1980’s mainly through the works of David Epston and Michael White. This type of therapy was mainly appreciated through a book written by the two advocating for use of narrative in addressing psychological problems. This type of therapy is different from other therapies that use the same concept of narrative (Morgan, 2008, par 6). Narrative is a kind of family therapy that seeks collaboration between the therapists and the client. The objective of the therapy is use narrative to help clients to describe their experiences and, in the process, gain healing.

Narrative therapy seeks to obtain solutions to human problems by using non-blaming approach (White, 2007, p. 67). It is keen to separate a problem from the individual that is experiencing the problem. The motto of the therapy suggests that a clear line should be drawn between the problem and the individual that experiences the problem. The intention is to us a respective approach to help people externalize their problems and be able to obtain healing.

Through this approach, the individuals seeking assistance are made to be confident they are not the problem by themselves and able to use their abilities to transform their lives. The individuals seeking therapeutic assistance are assisted to narrate their stories and helped to develop alternative stories. Alternative story is developed by use of an individual’s goals, opinion, values, abilities and attitude.

How the therapy Works

Narrative therapy works by helping clients understand their problems, deconstruct self identities that lead to a problem and construct new meaning that is fruitful to an individual. It is believed that individual’s identity is influenced by the stories that they tell about their lives. Narrative therapists are supposed to help individuals to tell their stories of their lives and experiences (White, & Morgan, 2006, p. 106).

A narrative therapist assists an individual to give a rich narration of his or her life and also acts as a co-investigator to the problem. In the narration, the therapist is supposed to help the clients to separate themselves from their problem. By separating a problem from the individual with the problem, a distance is created and the client is able to face his or her problems objectively and be able to develop alternative stories. It is believed that, by externalizing a problem, individuals can be able to use their values and abilities to re-author their stories.

Use of Narrative Therapy on Internet Addiction in Youths

Every youth that is addicted to internet has a story to give about their lives and experience with internet. Internet plays an important place to lives of many youths. The internet is source of varied information and entertainment. The internet provides a platform through which a youth can relate to other youths though social networking tools. Every youth have a story about how they started to use the internet and how the noble practice turned to be uncontrollable. Internet addiction among the youths usually leads to poor relationship with parents. The parents, with intention of winning back their sons and daughter from the addiction, interfere with their privacy.

The addiction can lead to acquiring certain identity from parents, peers, teachers and other members of the society. Inability to control may make the youths to develop certain identity about them. Negative identity from parents, peers, the society and themselves can make the youths to loose their identity. Over emphasis on negative attributes may obscure vast ability of the youths to overcome internet addiction.

The self identity play an important role in how an individual live his or life. Majority of people are usually influence negative feedbacks that their self identity is influenced. Negative feed may influence and individual define his or her story according to the influences. This leads to thin description that does not allow development of complexities or particulars of life. The thin descriptions are just surface descriptions can impend and individual experiencing their real feelings, desires, attitude and intentions (Besa, 1994, p. 76). The surface description often leads to thin conclusion and affect the perception of the problem. Thin description can have negative effect on ability of a youth to overcome internet addiction. Through this description, a youth could be labeled an internet addict of other negative terms.

Narrative therapy to a youth that is addicted to internet should aim at helping the youth to identify his or her problem, describe his or her story and develop an alternative story. The first step in the therapy is to define the problem. The problem of internet addiction can be defined differently depending on an individual youth. The problem should be defined in the context of an individual youth and afterwards start the process of externalizing the problem (Monk, Winslade, Crocket & Epston, 1997, p. 116).

The problem should, exclusively be defined by the youth. From hoe the youth defines the problem; the therapist can be able to gain in-depth understanding to the problem. The problem should be understood of the youth. About 90 percent of the youths in our society have constant access internet. The problem should be viewed of this context and through this help the youth to externalize the problem. Other considerations that should be considered when defining the problem include the relationship between the youth and other members of the society and the effects that result from the problems. As a narrative therapist, one should engage the youth in order to view internet addiction as something that is separate from their self identity (Catrina, Tod, 2006, p. 79). Being able to name the problem means the youth has power and authority over the addiction.

Externalizing the problem is very important in starting the healing process. Often individuals with psychological problem internalize their problems and are not able to develop a separate identity with the problems. The major test is providing offering narrative therapy to youths who are addicted internet comes with enabling to view the problem as separate from their personality (Besley, 2000, p. 27). The therapist should be careful on the words and phrases used in conversation with the youth.

The phrases used should imply clearly that the problem and individual are separate. The therapist should ensure that that the youth is able to discuss the problem objectively as a separate entity. The youth should be invited to interpret the problem. For example, the youth may be invited to describe how addiction to internet has affected his of her life. This would help the youth to develop a rich description of the problem story. Various techniques can be used to help the youths externalize the problem. The youths can be used to write a description of the problem.

The therapist and the youth should evaluate the history of internet addiction. This would further help to externalize the problem and consider other alternative narratives. Internet addiction is relatively new. Likewise, attachment to internet is also news. By discussing the trend towards this addiction, the youth can be able to view the addiction as dynamic and possible to be reversed. The youth should also be helped to review the effect of the addiction on their personal lives.

For example, the youth can be helped to evaluate effect of their problem on their relationship, values, social life, physical health and hope (Payne, 2006, p. 83). The narrative therapist may ask the youth to explain the reason why they the problem of internet addiction as he or she does. This would help the youth to reflect deeply on the problem and also enable the therapists to have a broader understanding of the problem in the context of the youth.

A problem continues to exist with support of beliefs, practices and ideas of dominant culture (Peine, & Allen, 2007, par 6). Internet addiction is a result of the effects of technological advancement and wide usage of internet. It is an emerging culture for youths to spend most of their time surfing chatting with friend. To help a youth overcome this addiction, the therapist should help the youth redirect the problem in the context of wider culture. In this process of redirecting the problem, the therapist helps the youth to replace the problem story with a richer story.

After defining the problem, externalizing the problem and describing the problem story, the youth should be helped to develop as alternative story (Peine, & Allen, 2007, par 13). Every youth has aspiration with their lives. Addiction to internet could be part obstacles that block the youth from accomplishing their aspirations. After exploring the problem, the youth may be interested in changing his of her life. This is the time when the therapist invites the youth to re-author his or her narrative.

A counselor a role and enable the youth to acquire the alternative story. The alternative story consists of committing one self to acquire other skills that are consistent with the individual’s values hope, and aspiration. After the alternative story is developed, it is thickened through various techniques. Witnesses such as the youth’s parent, friends or support group can be invited to witness the new story (Semmler & Braun, 2000, par 7). Other techniques such as re-membering, use of therapeutic documents and celebrating the story can be used.

Conclusion

Internet technology has brought new challenges in the society. Internet addiction especially among the youths is a major problem in modern society. The addiction leads to the youths spending a lot of their time with internet and may affect their performance in schools, separate them from family and affect their social development. Internet addiction has also been associated with other psychological problem such as depression. Narrative therapy is a good approach to handling internet addiction. The therapy uses non-blaming techniques that separate the problem from the individual suffering from the problem. By using this approach on youth with internet addiction would help them evaluate their problem and develop ways for improving their lives.

Reference List

Besa, D. (1994). Evaluating Family Therapy Using Single-System Research Designs. Research on Social Work Practice. 4(3). Pp 309-325.

Besley, A. (2000). Foucault and the turn to narrative therapy. British journal of Guidance and counseling. 30(2) pp 125-143.

Catrina B. Tod A. (2006). Narrative therapy: making meaning, making lives. New York: Sage Publications.

DiClemente, C. (2003). Addiction and change. New York: The Guildford Press.

Helpguide.org (2010). Internet addiction: sign, symptoms, treatment and self help. Web.

Monk, G., Winslade, J., Crocket, K., & Epston, D. (1997). Narrative therapy in practice: The archaeology of hope. American journal of Psychology. 32(4) pp 22-37.

Morgan, A. (2008). What is narrative therapy? Web.

Payne, M. (2006). Narrative therapy: an introduction for counselors. New York: Sage Publication.

Peine, H. & Allen. L. (2007). Narrative Therapy. Web.

Semmler, P. & Braun, W. (2000). Narrative therapy: a storied context for multicultural counseling. Journal of multicultural counseling and developing. 28(1). Pp 51-62.

Smith, D. (2008). Addiction to internet ‘is an illness’. Web.

White, M. & Morgan, A. (2006). Narrative therapy with children and their families. Adelaide: Dulwich Centre Publications.

White, M. (2007). Maps of narrative practice. New York: Norton.

Yellowlees, P. & Marks, S. (2005). Problematic internet use or internet addiction? Computer in Human Behavior. 23(3) pp. 47-53.

Young, K (2004). Internet addiction: A new clinical phenomenon and its consequences. American Behavioral Scientist. 48(4). 402-415.

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PsychologyWriting. 2022. "Internet Addiction and Narrative Therapy." January 13, 2022. https://psychologywriting.com/internet-addiction-and-narrative-therapy/.

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PsychologyWriting. "Internet Addiction and Narrative Therapy." January 13, 2022. https://psychologywriting.com/internet-addiction-and-narrative-therapy/.