For parents concerned about their children’s internet use
The definition of Internet Addiction Disorder is “excessive computer use which interferes with daily life”. Many parents are becoming increasingly concerned that screen time is stopping their kids from having real world experiences. If a person is no longer functioning in everyday life, then it is time to get help.
Young people who are addicted to the internet can become isolated, lonely, depressed, irritable and anxious. It affects a person emotionally and has a big impact on relationships. Addiction to the internet is just like an addiction to food, drugs, alcohol, work, gambling, etc. It becomes all consuming and takes over everything else.
The internet offers a way to escape troubling situations and painful feelings. Young people who are troubled, socially isolated and have poor social and coping skills are at a greater risk of developing inappropriate or excessive online habits.
Warning signs of internet addiction
- Losing track of time while online
- Becoming agitated or angry when online time is interrupted
- Irritability when not allowed to access the internet
- Spending time online rather than with friends and family
- Spending time on the internet in place of homework and chores
- Disobeying usage time limits
- Sneaking online when no one is around
- Loss of interest in activities that were previously enjoyable
Tips to reduce internet use
- Take the issue seriously and present a united front
- Model responsible internet use
- Become more computer savvy and learn about monitoring software
- Show a genuine interest in what you child is doing online and keep communication open
- Discuss with your child clear boundaries for phone and internet use
- Make a plan and adhere to it
- Explore alternative activities to replace internet use
How therapy can help
The hardest part in overcoming an addiction is convincing the person that they have a problem. A therapist can help a young person come to terms with his/her problem. With internet addiction, it is best to scale usage back rather than go cold turkey. Having a therapist involved can help motivate a person and assist in formulating a realistic plan to reduce and control use.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is a treatment model because it targets thinking and behaviours. When treating young people, parents usually need guidance and advice about their role in helping their child or teenager. Strong family support is vital to recovery.