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Bengaluru doctors develop module to study and cure technology addiction

Economic Times:  August, 2015

Bengaluru: City-based doctors and researchers could change the way technology addiction is studied and cured in India.

Developed by the technology de-addiction clinic SHUT (Service for Healthy Use of Technology) at Nimhans (National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences), the module is the brainchild of Prasad Reddy , a second year PhD student at the Department of Psychiatric Social Work.

"There are no structured intervention modules to study technology addiction in India. The US module that is frequently used is not always suitable for Indian conditions," Reddy told ET, adding that the clinic presently uses a model originally meant for substance abuse.

The tech intervention module, which will be ready in the next six months, will assess quantifiers for dysfunctional behaviour and study how to control use of technology as a coping mechanism for peer pressure, boredom and stress. The psycho-education component would help sensitise and educate people about technology addiction.

Dr Manoj Kumar Sharma, professor of clinical psychology who runs the SHUT Clinic and is Reddy's coguide, said their module would be more expansive when compared to the current module developed by New York-based Dr Kimberly Young (founder, The Centre for Internet Addiction). Dr Young uses cognitive behavioural approach (CBT) to assess individual cogni tion, expectancy and impact on behaviour.

"Taking various cultural factors and support systems into consideration, we will work with individual families," he said. "Also, while the CBT module needs 10-12 sessions with every case, this one can be used simultaneously on a group of people in 3-4 sessions. This would reduce dropout rates, considering that a majority of our cases are adolescents with low motivation levels."

A large-scale feasibility test would be conducted in a year, said Reddy .

Technology experts believe that even though a majority of tech addicts are young adults, the module needs to be applicable across age groups.

Sunil Abraham, Executive Director, The Centre for Internet & Society , said technology addiction is a modern version of older addictive behaviours around gaming, gambling, shopping and pornography . "For young people, the focus on the family and peers is very important for rehabilitation from addictive behaviour," he said.