Children from age 8 to 18 spend an average of 44.5 hours per week in front of their tablet or mobile screens. Parents get concerned that the extensive usage of the internet might stop their child from real-world experiences.
Around 23% of the teen and post-teenagers reported feeling that they are addicted to video games. According to Dr. Douglas Gentile’s Media Research report, one out of every ten youth gamers shows symptoms of damage to their family relations, their school, and psychological functioning demanding concern.
Apart from games, kids usually spend most of their time on the internet. Social networking, blogging, instant messaging, watching videos, and downloading movies, are some of the activities that kids enjoy online.
Warning signs that you could use
The director of the Center for Internet Addiction Recovery, Dr. Kimberly Young, identified a few potential signs in your child’s behavior that could save your child from internet addiction. Look out for any of these sign in your children:
- Sacrificing sleeping hours to spend time on the internet
- Losing track of time while using the internet
- Showing a restless or angry behavior when they are interrupted while using the internet
- Checking their phones compulsively
- Spending time online rather than interacting with family and friends
- Crossing the daily screen-time limits
- Sneaking online when you are not around
- Losing interest in physical activities
- Seeming preoccupied with getting back on the internet when they are away from their phones or computers
- Becoming moody and irritated when they don’t have access to the internet
Effects of internet addiction on your child
Internet addiction is a growing concern. It’s an informative as well as an entertaining medium among the children. However, these qualities can also make it a tempting escape for many individuals. The online world offers a way to escape from painful or troubling situations, just like addiction to alcohol or drugs. Children sacrifice their sleeping hours to spend time in a comfortable online world they have created for themselves. It hurts their ability to be a part of the real world. They struggle at school, lose confidence, and become socially aggressive. In short, overusing it can make it hard for them to deal with the real world.
What can parents do to stop it?
· Address the elephant in the room:
If you want your kid to enjoy his childhood as you did, you may need to explain to them what the problem is. However, you should know your words could hurt your child. So, be ready for the emotional response that you might get. A child who is addicted or becoming an addict will feel threatened at the idea of restricting their computer or screen time. As a concerned parent, you could acknowledge your child’s emotional reaction but stay focus on what’s best for them.
· Show them you care:
Remind your child that you care for their happiness and that you love them; it can be helpful. Reassure them that you are not accusing them. Instead, tell them that you are concerned about the changes you have seen in them and their behavior. Referring to those changes in specific terms like fatigue, falling grades, giving up hobbies, social withdrawal, etc. might help.
· Act more T-savvy
Check their browsing history and their phone logs. Learn about how parental monitoring software like Xnspy can help you. Be more comfortable with technology. Parents need to know the updated terminologies. If you want to provide a safer place for your child, you need to take an active interest in their activities online.
· Set reasonable boundaries and rules
Lots of parents show a sudden reaction when they see any signs of internet addiction in their children. They take away their tablets or phones as a form of punishment. Many of them become frightened and force their children to quit it, believing that it would end the problem.
Both of these reactions invite more trouble – your child will start to look at you as their enemy instead of their ally. So to control this, you should work with your child and establish limited internet usage boundaries. Follow the rules and keep this in your mind that you are not trying to control their actions but helping them to save themselves from a psychological need.