Internet addiction is an increasingly frequent concern among parents of teenagers who see their children spend a lot of time surfing the web. And it is a real problem, known under the name of Internet Addiction Disorder , suffered by an increasing number of adolescents around the world.
It mainly affects young men with the typical problems of adolescence, introverted personality, or other disorders such as attention deficit, depression , etc. Our children can suffer from fatigue (which reduces their ability to solve problems), anxiety, and loss of memory and attention. These behaviors not only affect personal relationships but also impair overall performance.
A teenager addicted to the Internet totally isolates himself by losing track of how long he remains “hooked.” You can stop interacting with friends and put aside academic activities because you will find a thousand excuses. This misuse and abuse of the Internet by a teenager generates many problems in the family and parents feel they do not know how to reduce the amount of hours their child is on the computer .
Parents should control the use that their children make of the computer and the Internet, but how do you know where the limit is ? How do the symptoms of Internet addiction manifest? At PregDream we give you answers to these and other questions about teenage Internet addiction.
HOW CAN I TELL IF MY CHILD IS ADDICTED TO THE INTERNET
There is no established number of hours that determines if your child is addicted or not, but there are some guidelines that can be indicators of the existence of problems. Among the symptoms to detect an Internet addiction, we find:
– Changes in lifestyle habits to connect more often, for example sleeping fewer hours.
– Neglect of health and physical activity.
– Avoidance of other important activities.
– Loss of social contacts.
– Total concentration on the screen, ignoring what happens around.
– Great irritability from being interrupted.
– If you stop participating in family activities and spend all your time in your room at the computer.
– Lies to family members or other people about the amount of time spent playing on the Internet.
Parents should be aware of:
– The time spent connected to the Internet without having to spend it.
– The frequency with which it connects.
– The reasons for which it says to connect.
– The attitude they show when they are bothered (irritability, anxiety, etc.).
– The attitude you show while connected (absorbed, very concentrated, anxious, etc.).
HOW SHOULD I ACT
As parents we can advise our child and, if necessary, take total or partial prohibition measures, but always as a last solution, because we must not forget the rebelliousness of this stage. Some alternatives before the ban can be:
– Setting limits is the golden rule and the first thing a parent should do.
– Explain the risks.
– Find out about the subject, consult with specialists or psychologists.
– As a first measure, the prohibition is not the most advisable.
– Establish priorities and responsibilities in relation to daily activities.
WHO IS MOST AT RISK
Adolescents are the ones most at risk of developing an Internet addiction. The main reason for this pathological behavior is that adolescence is a stage in which they have not yet developed sufficient maturity to know what harms them and how much damage they may suffer. However, not all adolescents have the same risk, there are some characteristics that can make them even more vulnerable:
– Adolescents with family problems . Some of these young people may spend an excess of hours in front of the computer to escape from the problems of their environment.
– Adolescents with psychological problems . There is a higher incidence in young people who suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder ( ADD ) or depression .
– Adolescents with social phobia . Those who find it difficult to relate can also use the Internet as an option for connecting with society.
WHAT MEASURES SHOULD I TAKE
The first thing that experts advise is to establish a limit of time that your child can spend on the computer per day. Tell him what his limit is and see if he can do it on his own. If you can’t, start using a timer. Once the alarm goes off, your child should turn off the computer. You can also set a password that only you know, that way, your child can only access the Internet when you allow it. Move the computer to an open area of the house , sometimes placing it outside your child’s room is enough to reduce the time spent on the Internet, it will also be easier for you to supervise its use.
If you think that your child is exceeding the time he spends on the Internet, talk to him. Find out if there is a specific reason for their behavior. Sometimes teenagers find it easier to interact with a computer than with children their age, or they use it as a means to escape from reality. You need to find out what your child sees on the Internet and which pages he visits, as their content may be inappropriate or unknowingly endangered.
Addictions are hard to break, and it’s even harder when you have nothing else to do. Replace that time spent on the Internet with other activities , especially any that encourages contact with people their age and makes them leave the house. Sports or outdoor activities are a good option, as are languages, crafts or hobbies.
HOW CAN I PREVENT IT
Experts advise that children under the age of 10 do not have access to the Internet without adult supervision. They can use the computer as a game, leisure, study or source of information.
From 10 to 14 years old, they can access the Internet according to the hours and rules stipulated under parental supervision. Children frequently prohibit their parents from supervising the content they handle on the Internet or the use they make of chats and social networks, alleging a violation of their privacy. But the truth is that at those ages, children can be highly potential victims of fraud, harassment or deception on the Internet. Therefore, parents must bear in mind that they are still minors and that rule does not apply to them, since there are many risks to which they are exposed.
From the age of 14, parents must establish very clear rules of use and explain the sanctions that will be applied in case of non-compliance. It is considered that at this age adolescents can begin to be free to use the Internet, but knowing the risks and dangers of doing so and the limitations imposed on them.