The Internet – Are you addicted?
The Internet has become a massive part of our day-to-day lives, especially for the younger generations. The Internet is constantly at our fingertips, whether it’s from our phones, tablets, computers and even our watches, it is everywhere! With the Internet being accessible from pretty much anywhere this is where abuse may come into the picture, and Internet addiction is a very real thing. Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD) and Internet Use Disorder (IUD) and Problematic Internet Use are what people are referring to when talking about Internet addiction; this disorder can be a huge difficulty especially for young people. As a parent you need to be there for your child, especially during this day and age.
Why should you be worried?
No one can deny the usefulness of the Internet, everyone uses it and it is extremely helpful in all walks of life. The convenience of the Internet is undeniably it’s greatest accomplishment by making normal tasks ten times easier at the click of a mouse.
However where there are benefits there are also downfalls, especially with young people who are easily hooked on Internet usage. With the Internet being there for almost all of their lives the younger generation are completely dependent on the Internet.
We live in an age where scientists and psychologists suggest that some internet addictions can be just as harmful as alcohol and drug dependencies, and that IAD could be added as a psychiatric disorder under Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders in the Fifth Edition or DSM-V. Studies have been carried out because of the rising numbers of deaths related to the Internet; especially in countries such as South Korea where there have been 10 death’s involving heart problems and other excessive Internet usage related health issues. Meanwhile, in China reports say that one in six Chinese people are dependant on the Internet. This can pose as a huge threat for parents as children are more susceptible to the influences of the media.
What to look out for
- Loosing track of time when online
- Doesn’t like being interrupted whilst online
- Isolation from other people
- Defensive over excessive usage
- Hiding his or her internet use
- Only happy when he or she is online
Truly the signs may differ from child to child as there are endless possibilities of the sites and usage they could be addicted to. You need to keep and eye out and know what is normal for your child and keep an eye out for any changes in behaviour regarding the Internet. A lot of these signs may also suggest that your child may be doing something online that they shouldn’t, you should talk to your child openly about their usage and try not to alarm them that you may be concerned.
What could be the consequences?
Like any addiction, Internet addiction can have many negative consequences. Most children and teenagers are effected emotionally and suffer with low self esteem. Others eventually lack social skills, as they would rather interact with people on the virtual world. There can also be some physical consequences:
- Pain and lack of sensation or numbness in the wrists and hands, a condition known as carpal tunnel syndrome
- Strained vision or eyes
- Headaches, migraine, backaches, and neck pain
- Trouble sleeping
- Weight loss or weight gain
As a parent you are responsible for your child and you need to look out for these signs as they could have serious physical or emotional effects on your child and their future.
What should you do?
Internet addiction can be common among teens as the Internet and social networking and gaming is a part of their cultures and life styles. But this does not mean that it should be ignored, if you are worried about your child you should intervene. By talking to your child openly you need to learn why your child spends so much time online in order to help – for example an addiction to gambling could be worrying in a different way to if they felt that didn’t have many friends, in order to help your chid you need to understand how they are feeling. They need to understand that although the Internet is useful and entertaining there is a lot more to life. Slowly decrease their usage and introduce them to new activities so that they have a more varied lifestyle. This is where you will also recognise if your child needs further help or if this is something you can conquer at home. If you feel your child may need further help you can talk to a doctor or specialist and also get help from online forums. Here are a few helpful pointers for helping your child from home:
- Encourage other interests and social activities
- Monitor computer usage and set clear limits – some internet providers will let you set timers on your child’s usage of the internet so contact your provider and find out about the options available to you.
- Helpful apps – you can download apps onto your child’s phone that will monitor and limit your child’s Internet usage and web browsing at different times of the day.
- Make sure there are no other underlying issues
- Get help – if you feel you may be out of your depth there is no shame in getting help, children often rebel against their parents so maybe get the help of another adult they may trust or look up to
Now remember to have fun and be safe online, it’s not all bad and we need to promote the positive use of the internet and the education of the