Is Your Child Addicted to the Internet?
By Michael Grose
Kids use the Internet like the telephone of yesteryear. They use
it for entertainment, education and communication and not
necessarily in that order. In some ways chat rooms are like milk
bars and hamburger places of the past where young people could spend
time without adult interference. The Internet itself is not to be feared
but it could be a sign of
internet addiction if your young person spends all their waking hours online.
The much-publicized risk of predators is small compared with
excessive use and the consequent isolation. While the research is
thin on the ground about the Internet and its effects on children and
young people it is fair to say that many concerns concentrate around
overuse at the expense of offline activities and relationships.
What's the attraction?
The Internet has a myriad of attractions for young people. It is
instantaneous, highly-interactive and immensely private, which are
highly prized attributes for most young people. It gives them access
to their mates, music and media without leaving home. It has
addictive qualities we know, but that doesn't mean that a young
person should become a Internet addict.
How should parents react?
1. Treat .com relationships and activities like any other.
Mocking their cyber friends and cyber activities can only drive them
further into the cyber world of rebellion, and further away from the
real world. It is also useful to point out that cyber-relationships
are not necessarily real friends. If these are the only
relationships a child or young person has then the alarm bells
should be ringing.
2. If the cyber world is the real world for your young person
because he shuns most other activities as well as people it is time
to take some action or even get some help.
3. Involve yourself in their cyber activities, much as you would
any other type of activity. Take the time to find out what they are
doing and what they get from the activities.
4. Negotiate online time allocations and share time online with
other interested siblings. Locate the computer connected to the
Internet in a public area so that you are accessible and also to
allow sharing can occur.
5. Ask your young person what a reasonable amount of time may be
online. If they continually violate that limit then it may be that
they have a problem. Let them think it over for a time. Consider
bargaining real time activities in exchange for time online.
6. Offer offline alternatives to entertainment, education and
communication. Remind them that there are offline alternatives, even
if they don't use them all the time.
Keep in mind
1. Be mindful of your connection with your young person so
encourage him or her to talk about their online life.
2. The Internet offers many opportunities for young people to
connect with each other that wouldn't ordinarily do so. It is a very
positive thing, however it is healthy to maintain a balance between
online and offline activities and relationships.
3. Keep an eye on your child's Internet life. Without being too pushy
try to ascertain what they use the Net for and set some limits for
its use, much as you would for the use of the television.
Michael Grose is a popular parenting educator and parent coach. He
is the director of Parentingideas, the author of seven books for
parents and a popular presenter who speaks to audiences in
Australia, Singapore and the USA. For free courses and resources to
help you raise happy kids and resilient teenagers visit