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Year : 2022  |  Volume : 10  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 118-125

Problematic internet use among adolescents and the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on mental health: An overview

Department of Psychiatry, Father Muller Medical College, Mangaluru, Karnataka, India

Correspondence Address:
S Malarmathi
Department of Psychiatry, Father Muller Medical College, Mangaluru, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/amhs.amhs_118_22

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Adolescents are a vulnerable population to problematic Internet use. Although it is considered a behavioral addiction, there is a lack of unified definition and criteria, and the current models are derived from substance dependence and their validity is yet to be established. At present, the Internet has become an integral part of everyday life and further explication is needed on what constitutes problematic Internet use. Unrealistic expectations, the need for excitement, risky behaviors, addictive temptations, and late bedtime in adolescents can lead to addiction. The Internet provides anonymity and at the same time a sense of belongingness and social acceptability to them. The prevalence of Internet addiction (IA) varies across cultures and countries. More than 90% of students stayed at home due to coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic and the technology became necessary to access education and gather information. Flexible daily routine, unlimited Internet access, less parental interference, boredom, and the natural tendency of this age group to use the Internet have led to an increase in IA. Unsupervised screen time and Internet access, lack of identification of at-risk individuals, lack of appropriate interventional strategies, and lack of awareness of mental health have made the scenario more complex, which is often overlooked. Treatment of problematic Internet use is an evolving field and the traditional model of abstinence is not feasible for the management of IA. Cognitive behavioral approaches are promising when combined with other treatments. Psychotropic drugs are found to be effective on comorbid conditions, which, in turn, can help in mitigating the symptoms of IA.

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