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Is your child an Internet junkie?

Michael Grose Parenting Report, Volume 9 Issue 2, Page 3
Article by Melissa Norfolk
Accredited professional speaker

Children are now surrounded by technology. Most kids use a computer at school and at home, play video games on a Playstation, watch TV, watch DVD's in the car, read and send messages via a mobile phone, or use hand held game devices. Talk about screen proliferation.! When you look at all the time children are spending in front of screens it is no wonder that some children are becoming addicted to various forms of technology!

Becoming addicted to the Internet can be similar to other forms of addiction, such as alcohol, cigarettes, gambling or drugs. Children can become moody, irritable and difficult if the Internet is not available or you may see a decline in their general behaviour and sociability.

But how do you know if your child is at risk and more importantly what can you do about it.

Symptoms of Internet addiction

There are many warning signs and these may include psychological and/or physical symptoms such as:

  • Being happier and brighter than usual while on the Internet
  • Spending more time online
  • Lying about the time spent online or "sneaking" onto the Internet while no-one is watching
  • Skipping meals to spend time online
  • Ignoring their online time limit
  • Carpel tunnel syndrome or pain and possible RSI in wrists or forearms
  • Ignoring family and friends and resisting spending time with them
  • Becoming moody, angry, irritable or showing other behavioural problems when not online, however once online their mood improves
  • Eye problems such as dry eyes
  • Anxiety about missing an email or message when not online
  • Tapping their fingers like they are using a keyboard or clicking a mouse
  • Missing sleep due to being online, having sleep disturbances or changes in their sleep pattern
  • Increased amount of headaches, back or neck pain
  • Lack of interest in anything but the Internet

If you have noticed any of these signs or you feel that your child's Internet usage has changed in a way that may be detrimental, then you may need to take action.

Strategies to combat Internet addiction

  • Set guidelines about the amount of time that can be spent on the Internet - don't ban it completely. Cut down on their time spent online instead of just cutting it. Consider placing a timetable near the computer.

  • Encourage spending time away from the computer and spending more time in other activities that include interaction with other children such as sport or playing with friends.

  • Look for software that can limit time spent on the Internet

  • Review your online habits. Does your child see you spending long periods of time online?

  • Find out the main subjects your child is looking at online and consider offering them offline.

  • Place the computer in the living room or family room, so that a child's Internet usage can be monitored.

If you feel that your child has a severe problem and is possibly showing signs of depression and anxiety as well, then you may need to seek expert help in the form of counselling with a psychologist.

There are also many online resources and articles that you can read on the topic of Internet Addiction, some websites even offer online counselling services, but beware of the screen yourself!

Internet expert, Melissa Norfolk, speaks to business, school and community groups about effective use of the internet, finding what you need online, internet safety and online marketing.

For more information phone (03) 9816 3488.

Copyright © 2008 Melissa Norfolk Technology Presentations