Parents of today’s youth know exactly how to shut their children up: Hand them an iPad, a Gameboy, or a smart-phone. Parents need a break sometimes. However, the internet may not be the best babysitter out there. Many children develop compulsive internet usage before they hit their preteens. It’s tricky ground, trying to prepare children for the technical atmosphere of the world whilst retaining their emotional and physical well-being.
Pay attention to your family and how you all interact. What’s the dinner table like? Is there more typing than chatter. It’s become socially acceptable for teens and adults alike to use their phones instead of communicating vocally, even when people are together. When you’re with your family, you should try extra hard not to do this. If you have children, you should try extra, extra hard, because your kids need you now more than ever—not just your authority and rules, but your voice and thoughts, too.
You’re more accustomed to starting face-to-face conversations than they are, because they were born in the virtual age.
SIGNS OF INTERNET ADDICTION FOR CHILDREN
Some of the traits that indicate technology addiction:
Irritability or depression when not online
Agitation or moodiness when time online is interrupted
Lack of concentration toward activities that were enjoyable
Lying about amount of time spent online
Neglecting homework, household chores, or other responsibilities to be online
Prefers online time to face-to-face interaction
Requires television at night to fall asleep
Shuts down emotionally or becomes violent when gadgets are taken away
AFFECT ON CHILDREN
Internet addiction poses threats to physical health as well, specifically the rising prevalence of obesity and sleep-related disorders. Not only does the behavior cause you to be inactive—it kills the drive to get active. Much like narcotics, smartphones over-stimulate the brain’s reward center. All those notifications, likes, followers, etc become children’s worlds. It’s the main source of validation and community by which they can base their self-identity.
TECHNOLOGY AND THE BRAIN
When developing an internet addiction, your brain changes, on both a cellular and neurological level. Brain areas that control attention, executive control, and emotion processing are affected in disturbing ways. The changes are similar to what you see happening in the brains of people addicted to cocaine, heroin, ketamine, and other substances. Some countries, including the US, have even dedicated facilities to the treatment of Internet addiction.
Blueprint provides support for young men struggling with addiction. Call us to find out how we can best help your loved one.