For children ages 8-18, “screen time” has always been a part of their lives. Thus, when it comes to Internet Addiction, there is a growing concern among this specific age group, with an average of 44 hours per week being spent in front of screens. While some children classify themselves as “gamers,” others are spending their time with other internet-based activities such as social networking, instant messaging, and blogging. However, with every additional hour spent in front of a screen, there is potential damage pertaining to academics, family time, and psychological functioning. Consider the following potential warning signs for children with too much Internet use:
- Begins to lose track of time while online
- Begins sacrificing sleep in order to spend time online
- Begins to prefer time online over activities with family or friends
- Becomes agitated if he/she is not allowed to access the Internet
- Begins to lie about time spent online
- Becomes irritable or moody when not online
While access to the Internet is a vital part of learning and is an important tool used to further one’s understanding of the world, it is also a way for kids to escape their painful situations, find companionship, or seek attention. For instance, children and teens can be whoever they want to be when they’re in an online chat room. They experience the thrill and excitement of playing games with visual effects and real-life imagery. The Internet then becomes an alternate reality where kids can create and explore and control their environment.
The growing concern is that the Internet is affecting children’s ability to relate to others face-to-face. The fact is—they are more comfortable chatting or messaging online, than in person. In turn, their ability to relate to others is stunted. This, however, is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Internet addiction. It’s believed that continued use over time is likely to contribute to anxiety and depression.
Consider Your Approach
While it’s easy to become angry and frustrated at the signs of Internet addiction, it’s important to consider your approach. At Nathan’s Waypoint, we provide a point of reference for parents and families dealing with the effects of adolescent anxiety and depression, including Internet addiction. For a free one-hour consultation to discuss your concerns and begin your path to wellness, call Nathan’s Waypoint today.
Posted on behalf of Nathan's Waypoint