Dangerous Online Obsession

September 18, 2013
Mary says her 17-year-old daughter, Missy, is addicted the Internet, and she fears she won’t turn into a responsible adult. When Dr. Phil meets with the family, he discovers a much more serious concern. When Mary hears the details about Missy’s online — and offline — activity, will she begin to grasp the gravity of the situation? This program contains strong sexual content. Viewer discretion advised.







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MissyMary, Missy's motherJude, Mary's fiancéChris, Missy's brother

Missy’s Online Activity

Mary says she’s worried her 17-year-old daughter, Missy, is seriously addicted to the Internet and fears she won’t turn into a responsible adult if she keeps living in the virtual world. “Missy lives and breathes by that iPad and iPod,” she says.

Mary’s fiancé, Jude, says the teen goes through “addict reactions” if they restrict her access to the electronic devices and will lie and bargain to get them back.

Mary says she’s grown concerned about Missy’s online interactions, especially since she doesn’t know the guys her daughter is involved with — and many are older. When asked about a 25-year-old who recently stopped by her house with Missy, Mary says, “A 25-year-old and a newly-minted 17-year-old could work, but I just don’t see that happening in this case.” She adds that some of the guys have also traveled “great distances” to see her daughter. “That’s a little bit far for a teen romance,” she says. “I’m concerned about the lack of a sincere relationship.” Mary admits that she’s tried offering incentives — even a pool and buying a pony and donkey — to get Missy to disconnect. “I think that Jude and I give her everything materially and, hopefully, emotionally that she desires,” she says. “But I guess that’s not enough.”

Mary asks Dr. Phil whether her daughter truly has an addiction and needs help. “Is this something where I need to get her some serious mental guidance … some help in maybe weaning her off of the Internet as much as I can?” she asks.

“No, this isn’t an addiction,” Dr. Phil responds. “Yes, she does need some really serious help; and I’ll tell you the question you didn’t get to in a minute.”

“This is not a Missy problem; this is a family problem,” he adds. He tells the couple that children need to know that their parents love them unconditionally, regardless of how they feel about their behavior. Does Missy feel this way?


“I think your daughter, in my opinion, is one of the highest-risk candidates for abduction, violence or rape that I have seen in the last few years.”

Mary explains why she feels Missy is seeking attention online. And, Missy reveals what she says she gets on the Internet — that she's lacking at home.

Missy reveals a traumatic experience that she says she had with a boy she’d just met.

“Were you her soft place to fall at that point?”



“She’s doing this because she’s got a need that’s being filled by those people.”


Dr. Phil tells the couple that Missy felt criticized instead of comforted after her traumatic experience. “It’s your job to see around corners for her, because you’re the adult; she’s the child. Her brain isn’t through growing yet,” he says. “Children, given the opportunity to get big stupid, will get big stupid.”

Missy admits that, despite that experience, she has no worries about hopping in a car with men she’s never met before in person. “I’ve never had that fear of being beaten, or getting stolen or raped or anything,” she says. “I do feel like if it hasn’t happened yet, then it will never happen to me.”

Missy’s brother, Chris, joins the show and says he and his family believe that Missy has met about 20 to 25 guys in person — but is that number accurate?

Dr. Phil reveals shocking information to the family about Missy’s admissions. Is the situation worse than they think?

Dr. Phil tells Jude that he’s in a difficult situation, because he’s not Missy father, and he’s not her stepfather. “To come in and try and parent an older teen … is just virtually impossible,” he says. “You’ve got an uphill battle here.” He turns to Mary and says, “You don’t.”

Don't miss Part 2, when the family gets an emotional wake-up call with Jason and Kristine, who say Kristine's 15-year-old daughter, Nichole, was abducted and killed by a man she met on Facebook. Will their story make an impact?