Signs of Internet Addiction

If you’re the parent of a teenager, chances are you’ve wondered if they’re addicted to the internet. Between Instant Messenger programs, Myspace, forums, text messages, and email, they may spend more time on the computer than they do with you. Welcome to the information age! However, there’s a difference between simply using the computer a lot and actual internet addiction. As a parent, it’s important that you know the warning signs of internet addiction, so that you’re prepared to take action if necessary and get your child the help they need.

True internet addiction has both psychological and physical symptoms. A combination of both may mean that it’s time for you to seek help for your child, through counseling or another form of treatment.

Psychological symptoms of internet addiction are primarily behaviorally based. Computer use becomes compulsive, and your child is unable to set limits for themselves. If you see the following signs of internet addiction in your child, it may be time to impose stricter limits as to computer use. If this does not work, you may need to seek professional help.

Sense of euphoria when using the computer

Unable to control computer usage on their own

Constantly seeking more computer time

Avoiding family and friends and turning to the computer instead

Irritability or depression when not using the computer

Difficulty with schoolwork due to time spent on the computer

Lying to you or others about time spent using the computer

Inability to limit computer use, anger when asked to do so

Internet addiction also has accompanying physical symptoms. If you notice that your child has developed several of these, along with psychological symptoms, it is probably time to seek professional help. Internet addiction should be taken seriously, and a therapist or counselor should be able to help you treat the problem.

Carpal tunnel syndrome – this develops due to the large amount of time spent at the keyboard typing.
Dry eyes

Sleep disturbances – be especially aware of changes in your child’s sleep patterns. Are they waking
up in the middle of the night to check scores in a game or update their Myspace profile?

Migraine headaches – caused by staring at a computer screen

Backaches – caused by long periods of time spent in a computer chair

Neglecting personal hygiene or forgetting to eat

Remember, there’s a difference between a child who simply spends a good deal of time on the internet and a child who is truly addicted. Keep an eye on your child’s social interactions to help you determine what the issue truly is. Do they have real life friends, or only socialize online? Do they spend time in other activities, or are the in front of the computer for hours each morning and evening? If you feel that your child is addicted to the internet, don’t be afraid to seek treatment. You can be the one to make a difference in their life.

Have a great day!