They said that many of the issues of problematic Internet use are due to lack of parental monitoring and inconsistencies in discipline.
New Delhi: The number of cases of Internet addiction among the youth at AIIMS behavioural addiction centre has almost doubled since the facility was started two years ago.
The centre has seen an increasing number of youth, mostly school and college students in the age group of 16-25, coming for “severe behavioural and psychiatric problems” due to Internet addiction, such as spending time on social media, online gaming, and gambling among others.
Internet addiction is uncontrolled use of Internet for gaming, gambling, or pornography to the extent that a person stops carrying out his or her routine activities.
However, the doctors also said that this may not be symptomatic of the gravity of the problem as there is lack of awareness among the population and many people don’t seek medical help.
They said that many of the issues of problematic Internet use are due to lack of parental monitoring and inconsistencies in discipline. Parents should, therefore, supervise the activities of adolescents and also introduce other pleasurable activities.
“They should also encourage their children to increase social interaction in the real world rather than spending time in the virtual world,” said Dr Rachna Bhargava, the clinical psychologist at AIIMS.
Pratap Saran, the professor of psychiatry at AIIMS, explained that Internet addiction is often associated with “depression, mood disorders, anxiety, and substance abuse.” However, the causality can be bidirectional, which means spending too much time on Internet may lead to poor academic performance. This, in turn, may lead to depression or mood disorders.
“Similarly, those suffering from depression may find spending time on Internet as an alternate source of engagement,” he said, adding that awareness needs to be generated among the youth and their parents about Internet addiction.
“Adolescents do not accept that they have Internet addiction and require several psycho-educative sessions. They are motivated to take treatment through various techniques,” Dr Bhargava said.
Professor R.K. Chadda, the head of the department of psychiatry and chief of National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre, said that 20-25 per cent of youth in India suffer from some kind of mental disorder with depression, anxiety, mood disorders, and substance abuse being prevalent among them.