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Dr. Kimberly Young, director of the university’s Master’s in Strategic Leadership program, traveled to Milan to participate in the International Congress of Internet Addiction Disorders from March 20-22.
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.
Experts from more than 12 countries traveled to Milan to exchange ideas and research on what Young calls a growing epidemic. She began the three-day conference as the keynote speaker.
“I was trying to understand what everyone else is doing (in regards to Internet addiction),” she said. “This is the first conference entirely devoted to Internet addiction, which is an important first step in establishing credibility of the disorder in the field.”
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is an effective method to treat Internet addiction, according to a study detailed in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions. Young authored the December 2013 article, titled “Treatment Outcomes Using CBT-IA with Internet-Addicted Patients.”
Although Young has done her own research and organized an effective treatment method, she is hoping to bring ideas from other countries to help people in the United States affected by Internet addiction.
“In America, we’ve done very little to combat the problem compared to other countries. I came back thinking that I really need to begin raising awareness of this,” she said. “It’s not necessarily about Internet addiction, but the use of technology in our lives. We’re so consumed by it.”
Young hopes to focus more on prevention of this addiction, especially in young children.
“Other countries, like Korea for example, have a plan,” Young said. “From the government level, they screen every 10-year-old child for Internet addiction and place children who they believe to be at risk through educational programs. I’d like to see more research in early childhood development such as in France, which requires prevention programs in every school.”
As the only American present, Young said she was able to gain a global perspective of this issue despite the language barrier.
“I got a sense of culture and my work and how important all of this is to many people in terms of understanding Internet addiction disorder,” she said. “It was a great experience overall, and it was great to be able to represent the university that way.”
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.
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