Studies suggest that kids aged 8 to 18 spend over 40 hours every week on screen, and their parents are concerned that uncontrollable use of the internet prevents them from real-world experiences. Observation tells us that more than 25% of the youth say that they are addicted to video games. Studies conducted across nations by different organizations revealed these shocking statistics on Internet addiction in kids. It shows the pathological impact of the internet and video games. Kids are filling their leisure time mostly with Internet activities like instant messaging, social networking, gaming, downloading, blogging, and more. Excessive amounts of screen time harm a child’s physical and mental health.
What is Internet Addiction?
Social media and smartphone usage influence the production of a chemical called dopamine. It is also a feel-good chemical associated with people addicted to smoking, drinking, and gambling. Chemical dopamine gives immediate ratification. Consequently, people repeatedly engage in the same activities to get a high dopamine dosage. Smartphones feature a series of applications that keep people hooked for endless hours.
Children who use these devices show a similar pattern of an addict often. Children use social media like how addicted individuals use substances like nicotine, alcohol, and drugs to relieve their stress and pain levels. It results in an unhealthy coping mechanism at an early age and turns into a worse time. Any trigger or stressful event makes them run for their digital devices, similar to an addiction. This addiction is termed “Internet Addiction”.
Unlike applications and websites that have restrictions carefully regulated by the authorities, there is no restriction in digital devices and smartphones by any kind of age limit. It is essentially the responsibility of the parents to regulate the use of these devices. It is crucial that parents are vigilant and keep a strict eye on their kids’ screen time and websites and apps. They are the only way of tackling this Internet addiction in kids.
How to identify if your child is addicted to the internet?
Until the age of three, children require a lot of external stimuli for the growth and development of the brain. The frontal lobe and its development are usually affected by excessive electronic gadgets. Poor development of this part can have a detrimental effect on social and interpersonal skills. It will be more difficult for them to learn social and interpersonal skills. When a child is constantly exposed to loud noise and changing visuals, it can hurt the sensory perception, resulting in stress hormones.
Many parents get angry when they see the signs of Internet addiction in kids and take away computers and other digital devices. Some parents get frightened and force their children to instantly stay away from digital devices.
These practices are ineffective; instead, the child will start considering the parent as an enemy and suffer from withdrawal symptoms, nervousness, irritability, and anger. Instead of scolding, you should identify if your child is addicted to the internet. You can quickly identify their internet addiction by analysing their behaviour and mood. They will no longer engage in activities they used to love once. They will not go outside to play and spend most of their time using digital devices. Thus, it is best to work with the child and understand the boundaries of limited internet usage.
7 Simple steps to help your child overcome their internet addiction
Therefore, it is necessary to ensure that they don’t go overboard. But when they do, parents should take a strategic approach to cure them of their addiction. Following are some simple steps to help your child overcome their internet addiction.
- Making them realise how much time they are spending in front of a screen. It is best to ask a child to set a timer when using an electronic gadget. It can effectively reduce their spending too many hours on the internet.
- Avoid being overly strict. Confiscating devices will only give rise to unnecessary rifts. It is best to set easy-going restrictions on not using the gadget for more than an hour. Do not allow the child to use any devices after dinner.
- Increasing family time and engaging them in conversations helps reduce internet addiction. Most children have shifted to digital media boredom. Discuss work, school, or current affairs to check their digital temptation.
- If the child is too young, it is best to find an alternative digital media to keep them engaged. Use comic books, colouring books, train sets, lego sets, or board games to engage young children.
- For teenagers, substitutes can be fictional or non-fiction novels, weekly magazines, playing indoor games, etc.
- Exposing kids to hobbies like baking, cooking, painting, calligraphy, and craftwork is also helpful in eliminating screen time and internet addiction.
- Parents can make use of reward techniques. For example, if the child does not use the video game throughout the day, they will get to eat their favourite dinner, or if they do not use the mobile phone after dinner, they can get a surprise gift. These can work wonders in internet usage.
To wrap things up!
There is no doubt about the fact that parenting is a demanding task. Parents need to have compassion, but at the same time, scolding is equally essential. Parents need to be strict if the child is getting accustomed to unhealthy practices. In the long run, it will be beneficial as the children will not be directed to the wrong path or have difficulty developing their skills. United We Care is an online platform dedicated to providing patients comprehensive mental health wellness and therapy from the comfort of their homes. Here the parents get to consult with experts about overcoming addictions and emotional disorders of their children.