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By Emily Carson, ’14
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is an effective method to treat Internet addiction, according to a study detailed in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions.
Dr. Kimberly Young, professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at St. Bonaventure University, authored the December 2013 article, titled “Treatment Outcomes Using CBT-IA with Internet-Addicted Patients.”
Dr. Young is a licensed psychologist and internationally known expert on Internet dependence. In 1995, she founded the Center for Internet Addiction, the first evidence-based Digital Detox rehabilitation program in the country.
Dr. Young’s research examined 128 patients’ use of cognitive-behavioral therapy to treat Internet addiction. Her findings revealed that therapy was effective in improving online time management and managing technology use at the end of 12 weekly therapy sessions.
“Internet addiction is a fairly new field. Literature on it will define it and what leads up to it, but not what will treat it,” Dr. Young said. “This is an important study because it’s one of the first with outcome data. After weekly sessions, people had better time management with their Internet use, improving their real-life relationships. “
While finishing a fellowship in neuropsychology at the Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, N.Y., Dr. Young began her research in 1995 when a friend revealed her husband’s Internet dependence.
“It got me thinking: Can people get addicted to the Internet in the same way that some are hooked on drugs, gambling or sex?” she said. “I started to learn more about the significant life problems people were having because of their Internet use.”
Dr. Young is happy to have found a treatment that works to treat excessive Internet use.
“Since cognitive therapy works, we now have a model and a framework for helping people,” she said. “Time management is a really important, key variable of treatment.”
When Dr. Young began her research, only one out of every 10 Americans used the Internet. Today, Internet addiction is seen around the world.
“The more I studied it, the more I learned about what I call the ‘silent addiction,’” she said. “People didn’t want to believe that there’s any kind of problem.”
Dr. Young published more of her findings in another article called “Self-esteem, Personality and Internet Addiction: A Cross-Cultural Comparison Study in Personality and Individual Differences,” in the prestigious Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
Using a short online experiment, the study assessed personality dimensions and individual differences in achievement motivation, affiliation and conscientiousness using various personality measures.
Dr. Young co-authored the article with experts from around the world: Dr. Cecilia Cheng from the University of Hong Kong; Dr. Christian Montag, University of Bonn, Germany; Dr. Andrew Cooper, Goldsmiths University in London; Dr. Luke Smillie, University of Melbourne; Dr. Martin Voracek, University of Vienna; and Dr. Songfa Zhong, University of Singapore.
Dr. Young said she wasn’t surprised by the findings.
“Culturally, we didn’t see many differences,” she said. “The outcomes were consistent among most people, regardless of where in the world they lived.”
Dr. Young has published more than 40 articles on the impact of online abuse and travels nationally to speak about her research. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, London Times, USA Today, Newsweek, Time, CBS News, Fox News, Good Morning America and ABC’s World News Tonight.
For more information on her research and programs, go to www.netaddiction.com.
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