Teenagers and Internet Addiction | Parenting

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It is said ‘Technology is a useful servant but a dangerous master. Teens today are becoming obsessed with technology and using it wrongly. They may think themselves to be techno-geeks but are still naive about the ways of the world. Taking information from the internet is useful but becoming obsessed isn’t good. They like to live in their virtual world without bothering about the real world. They have been obsessed with radio, television, mobile and the internet.  But with the coming of the digital age, the internet has superseded all other addictions.

Teens use the internet to complete school assignments, watching YouTube videos, checking social media, gaming and online shopping which if used in limits is not an addiction. But if teens spend a lot of time and misuse the internet then it can lead to Internet Addiction Disorder. Using dating sites, watching porn, too much gaming can lead to addiction, which can cause physical, social, emotional and functional impairment.

Reasons for Internet Addiction Disorder-

There is no exact reason for this cyber addiction but evidence suggests it may be due to the changes in brain structure which occurs during the teens. Sometimes Biological predispositions too may lead to Internet Addiction Disorder. Levels of Dopamine and Serotonin are less due to which teens might try to obtain pleasure by using the internet. Too much usage can lead to this disorder.

Signs & symptoms of Internet Addiction Disorder

There are both physical and emotional signs associated with this disorder. They are-

Emotional signs:

  • Depression
  • Dishonesty
  • Guilt pangs
  • Anxiety
  • Euphoria to use the internet
  • Can’t maintain schedules
  • Lack of time management
  • Lethargy
  • Laziness
  • Agitation
  • Mood swings
  • Fear
  • Boredom
  • Loneliness
  • Suspicious
  • Emotional outbursts
  • No interest in activities except the computer

Physical signs:

  • Unhealthy eating patterns
  • Lack of sleep
  • High caffeine intake
  • Lowering of academic grades
  • Unkempt appearance
  • Theft of money for online purchases and gaming
  • Backaches
  • Headaches
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Dry eyes and other vision problems
  • Cervical
  • Weight issues
  • Fatigue and dark circles beneath the eyes

All these symptoms both emotional and physical can affect a teen’s life in a drastic manner. It can cause relationship issues, academic progress may go downhill, they may resort to dishonesty, theft and even impersonation on the net.

DIAGNOSIS

  • Preoccupied with the computer
  • Inability to stop and get away from the computer
  • Remains dissatisfied
  • A lot of mood swings
  • Exceeds the deadline set for him on the computer
  • Uses the internet as an escape tool for problems and pleasure
  • Becomes a habitual liar.

Treatment-

The course of treatment depends on the age of the teenager, his nature and severity of the disorder.

Several therapies are used to treat a person with this disorder. They are:

  • Individual, group and family therapy
  • Close supervised schedule with no internet access
  • Behaviour modification
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy(CBT)
  • Equine therapy
  • Expressive arts therapy
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy(DBT)
  • Recreation therapy

Parents role in stopping internet addiction of their teens

  • Show love- to the child so that he feels secure and doesn’t need other tools to get rid of loneliness
  • Involve the child in family activities which do not involve the use of computer
  • Have family hobbies which keep the teen outdoors instead of spending time in front of the screen
  • Limit the use of mobile phone and downloading of apps
  • Mealtimes should be family time and it should be on the dining table
  • The computer shouldn’t be placed in the teen’s room
  • Try to make the child do his school work in the living room where he can be monitored
  • Try to enrol the teenager in creative pursuits

Last but not the least parents should spend quality time with their child so that he doesn’t think about the internet

It is said “Addiction is the disease of the disconnect, and the solution needs to include creating healthy connections.’

-Dr. PREETI TALWAR

 

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