Published: An-Pyng Sun and Lawrence Mullen

An-Pyng Sun (Social Work), Lawrence J. Mullen (Public Policy and Leadership), along with Hilarie Cash and Cosette Rae of the reSTART Life program, recently published an article, "Internet Addiction, Identity Distress, and Depression among Male Adolescents Transitioning to Young Adults: A Qualitative Study," in Future Review: International Journal of Transition, College, and Career Success. One of the few qualitative studies on the subject, this article offers a new perspective in understanding internet addiction among adolescents transitioning to young adulthood. The results reveal the importance of identity distress and its role in the internet addiction-depression relationship. Identity distress may lead to depression then internet addiction as self-medication; or a person may be trapped into internet addiction, leading to identity distress and depression. When treating adolescents and young adults with internet addiction, generalist clinicians tend to target depression as the root problem, de-emphasizing the addiction issue, assuming addiction would decrease once depression decreases. This study suggests that addiction can be the root problem itself; treating depression without treating addiction may compromise treatment effectiveness. To treat adolescents transitioning to young adults who exhibit internet addiction, clinicians must possess knowledge and skills related to age-specific development, mental health, and addiction.

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