Drugs. Alcohol. Gambling.
When most people think of addiction, these are the things that come up. However, there is a new player in town – one that can, in some ways, be just as damaging. That player is, of course, internet and technology overusue. Some studies estimate that up to 16% of children have a form of internet addiction.
Recognizing Internet Addiction
In today’s world, it is almost impossible to completely avoid the internet. Especially with the coming of smartphones, the internet is, literally, inside people’s pockets. With that in mind, the act of simply being on the internet – or checking in online multiple times a day – does not constitute an internet addiction. Internet addiction becomes a real issue when it begins to cause euphoria; many children will only feel happy when in front of a screen. Going online begins eating away at personality, up to the point where your children may only seem “normal” when given internet access. Another symptom of internet overuse is losing track of time – which often causes the child to feel guilty or attempt to hide the fact. The internet becomes a way to escape reality to the point where social interactions or school performance begin to suffer.
As a parent of a child with internet overuse issues, there are several steps that can make the problem better. Unfortunately, as with many sources of addiction, simply cutting all internet access altogether may cause withdrawal – instead, try slowly limiting the amount of time your child spends on the internet. Another way to help deal with an addiction to the internet, is to offer your child alternatives to going online. By doing fun things in real life, your child will not even realize that they’re not spending time in a virtual reality. Also, in some cases, technology overuse is a coping mechanism with real-world issues; being open for communication with your child may lend some insight into what is causing the problem.
If your child’s internet issues are getting out of hand, it may be time to consider professional help.