The Internet is undeniably useful. Everyone, from students to professionals, uses it to gain information. It has also presented a whole new meaning to convenience. People can do numerous things with it without having to work hard to achieve the purpose. For instance, researching on a particular subject used to mean that a student had to go to the library and read a book or two. With the Internet, students only have to search for the topic using a keyword or key phrase and all the answers are right there.
However, the benefits come with a price especially with young people who are easily hooked on Internet usage. Networking sites, although they are fun and help children become more social, make Internet dependency worsen. Parents should definitely be concerned and be able to learn more about Internet addiction facts because psychiatrists believe that such a compulsion is actually comparable to tobacco, drugs, and alcohol dependence. More Internet addiction research is being conducted mainly in Asian countries such as South Korea and China. As a result, some researchers and psychiatrists consider adding IAD as a psychiatric disorder under Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in the Fifth Edition or DSM-V.
The two mentioned countries conducted their studies because there have been deaths related to the Internet. In South Korea, there were 10 deaths involving heart problems and other health issues because of excessive Internet use. In addition, there have been murders related to online games. Meanwhile, in China, reports say that one in six Chinese people are dependent on the Internet. This can pose a huge challenge to parents of adolescents because they are more susceptible to the influences of the media.
It does not really matter if this is a psychiatric disorder or not because Internet addiction does cause other problems. These include depression, anxiety, impulsivity, shyness, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), low self-esteem, and even suicidal thoughts. All of these conditions are certainly worrisome especially if you do not help your child address them immediately.
Ivan Goldberg, a psychiatrist, coined the term Internet Addiction Disorder in 1995. It was originally meant as a joke, but many researchers took it seriously. Due to the popularity of the Internet, many other terms were born including Compulsive Internet Use (CIU), Internet Overuse, and Pathological Computer Use among others. In general, this disorder describes the excessive use of computers and the Internet, which results in a person not being able to do his or her daily tasks. Computer and Internet activity includes, but are not limited to:
The above-mentioned activities are addictive and a person who engages in inappropriate or overwhelming amount of time with them is considered an Internet addict. Someone with such disorder shows one or more of the following impulse-control issues:
It is important to understand that Internet use can either be healthy or unhealthy. As a parent, you should know how much is too much in order to protect your child from becoming too dependent on their computers or devices. Of course, one person’s use of the Internet varies from another person. For instance, some professionals use the Internet more than an average person because this is required of their work. The key is to determine whether your child’s relationship with you as well as with other people is affected because of Internet usage. If it absorbs your child’s time and he or she keeps repeating the same behavior with the Internet despite the obvious negative consequences, it is time for you to step in.
There is an Internet Addiction Disorder test that assesses whether or not someone is an Internet addict. The test has been found to be quite beneficial because it does measure the important cause and effect relationship in online use. If you believe that your child is addicted to the Internet, you should look for the following signs:
Truly, the signs and symptoms of being an Internet addict differ from one person to another. This is because there is no set amount of time everyday that tells parents their children is an Internet addict. However, the warning signs mentioned above should give you an idea as to whether or not your child is one of them.
Becoming an Internet addict has a number of negative consequences particularly on the emotional side. Most children and the teenagers have a problem with low self-esteem. Others eventually lack social skills because they would rather talk to people in the virtual world than the ones that they can interact with offline. Aside from the emotional impact, addiction to the Internet can also cause consequences physically. These include:
Both the physical and emotional effects bring negativity into a person’s life. This is your child’s life and future on the line. As a parent, you are responsible for your son or daughter, which is why the time to act is now.
Internet addiction is quite common in teenagers, but this does not mean that you should just let your child be. You have a huge role to fulfill and that is to guide your teen toward understanding healthy Internet use. The good news is there are many ways on how you can help your son or daughter combat the net compulsions. The first step is to make him or her realize that the Internet is helpful, but it can also ruin someone’s life. Everything has to start within your child’s self. By understanding that he or she is exceeding the normal use of computers and the Internet, it will be much easier for you to perform your job.
The second step is to have a long talk with your child. This is where you will learn why they spend an awful lot of time online. This is actually one of the most crucial steps because you will learn whether or not there are underlying problems related to your child’s behavior. In this stage, you will learn:
After a sincere talk and recognizing if your teenager needs further help, you can assist him or her in building the ability to cope. There are many young people these days who do not know how to deal with stress or their feelings of anger. Being a teenager is not always easy especially if there is no one to guide them. Thankfully, they have you, their parent, whom they can rely on instead of simply blowing off steam over the online world. Other times, your child may be shy and thus is having trouble when it comes to relating and communicating with other people. This is probably why they choose to talk to people whom they cannot have a direct contact with. The best way to remedy this situation is to encourage them to build their skills in dealing with the stresses and strains of life. Helping them understand that it is possible to overcome shyness by being more comfortable and confident about themselves is a good start.
Finally, a proven and effective way to combat addiction is to strengthen relationships with the right people. Reassure your son or daughter that finding and building relationships is valuable. Give them the motivation to join groups where they have common interests such as book reading, sports, or music.
You can help your child regulate the amount of time he or she spends online. Some of the possible things that you can do include:
Regardless of the intensity of your child’s Internet addiction, you should be aware that parents have a huge responsibility in keeping the balance between their normal and online life. Do not be surprised if it is difficult at first because most teenagers will resist their parents as they are taught how to manage their Internet use. By maintaining a resilient attitude over the matter, your child will eventually understand that there is life outside Facebook or the web browser.
It is essential to spread the word about Internet Addiction Disorder and help patients of Internet Addiction Disorder escape this now!