The signs and symptoms of internet addiction may not necessarily be present in everyone, in addition to this; they have been known to vary from one victim to another. This is especially true because the internet operates twenty-four hours a day and there are no set hours that point to internet addiction and neither is there a fixed number of emails and instant messages that are recommended for normal internet usage. Learn about the Internet Addiction Signs.
All the same, there are general warning Internet Addiction Signs that will tell an attentive parent that their teen is quickly becoming a victim of internet addiction:
- Spending all their time online – when your child spends all their time online and can no longer keep track of time, chances are they are already addicted. If they get irritated and angry at you whenever you force them to log out, there is trouble brewing.
- Difficulty and failure in doing household chores – if your child no longer gets any chores done effectively if they ever get to do them at all and they have access to computers and phones, chances are that they are spending all their time online chatting, instant messaging e.t.c.
- Seclusion from family and friends – if your teen is no longer spending any time with family and friends because all his time is spent online, you have every reason to suspect a serious case of internet addiction.
- Guilt and defensiveness about their internet use – if your child gets easily irritated when you nag them about the time they spend online, they are just being defensive of their behaviour. If they try to hide the exact amount of time they spend on the internet, they are feeling guilty about their behaviour.
Other physical Internet Addiction Signs include the following:
- Insomnia or sleeplessness
- Dry eyes
- Strained vision
- Evident weight gain or weight loss
- Backaches, headaches and neck aches
- Carpal tunnel syndrome in simple terms refers to pain and numbness in fingers, hand and fingers.
Internet Addiction Signs and Tips For You And Your Teenager
- Sit down with your teen or pre-teen and discuss all other activities they are passing up by spending all their time alone. The trick lies in listing all these activities down on paper so that your child can see the evidence of exactly what they are missing out on. Doing this may easily convince them to decrease the amount of time they spend online to catch up with what they have already lost.
- Set reasonable goals together, for example, you could start by encouraging them to take ten minutes out of every hour they spend online to engage in other activities. After achieving this goal, then it’s time to increase the time to twenty minutes out of every hour and so on.
- After setting these goals through pattern breaks, it’s time to encourage them to take full mornings or evenings off.
- Together, discuss some of their friends who happen to be doing very well without having to spend all their time online. It might not be wise to compare your teen to another; it makes them feel useless and inferior. The trick lies in subtly asking them to suggest any of their friends or schoolmates they admire and asking them if they spend all their time online. Persuade them to spend time with people who don’t spend all their time online.
- Encourage them to pursue offline activities like spending time with friends and relatives, reading interesting books, listening to music and so on.
Internet Addiction Signs and Treatment Options
Therapy and counselling – therapy will go a long way in helping your child control internet addiction. Cognitive behavioural therapy is an option that provides gradual treatment to put an end to uncontrollable internet behaviours while at the same time changing the perception of the teen regarding internet and computer usage. This kind of therapy is also aimed at teaching healthier ways of dealing with unhealthy emotions such as depression, anxiety and stress.
Group support – many people are ashamed to admit that they have an addiction to the internet, interestingly; there are parents who would rather leave the cases of their children untreated than admit to the public that their children are internet addicts. It is for this very reason that finding real-life internet addiction groups becomes an almost impossible undertaking. If this happens to be the case, other support groups that deal with social and coping skills can help with unhealthy emotions.
Internet addiction groups are much easier to find online but then wouldn’t this be spending even more time on the internet which is exactly what you are trying to avoid in the first place.
Internet Addiction Signs and Helping Your Child or Teen
The many cases of internet bullying and the rising statistics on cyber bullying related suicides have urged parents to limit their children’s internet use severely. While this may seem like a good initiative, severe limitations will only make them rebel or even go to the excess.
However, this does not mean that you should not monitor their computer use, all computer activities must be supervised and help sought as soon as possible if parents suspect a case of internet addiction.
For the parents who already suspect internet addiction signs in their teens or pre-teens, the following tips will help:
- Encourage them to pursue other interests and offline activities – doing this will urge your teenager to stay offline. There are many offline activities that can be much fun like mountain climbing, camping and sports.
- Set clear limits and monitor their online activities – all internet-accessing devices like smartphones, computers and IPads should never be allowed in private areas. Set unbreakable rules where all these devices can only be used in the living room or kitchen where everyone present can be able to see what the teen is up to. Parents should always be willing to set examples and standards, if you are an internet addict, chances are that your teen will also become one too.
- Seek out any underlying issues – computer addiction is in most cases just a sign of other underlying issues like depression, stress, rejection and anxiety.
- Seek help – teenagers have been known to give more value to advice from a different person other than the parent especially if the person happens to be an authority figure like a teacher, sports coach or a doctor. Professional counselling should also be sought especially where the addiction is severe.
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