With much of our lives being spent online children tend to do little else apart from wasting their time fixed on their device.
They can be downloading music, playing games or spending countless hours chatting in one of the many social media platforms.
When things become too bad, they can become exposed to cyberbullying, online scams and sexual-predators along with some falling into shopping online and online gambling.
At worst there are many (adults included) who are turning to life online as a way to avoid family interactions or to help resolve relationship or emotional problems.
When this sort of behavior manifests, they become pulled further into their online world and their screen-time increases. With this downward spiral school, studies suffer as well do their close family relationships.
In many cases parents have taken drastic measures and have confiscated their child’s device, this, in turn, leads to the child becoming angry and puts up a front against their parents.
Do they have a problem?
At some stage, parents have to consider the question of how much screen time is too much for their children before it becomes a significant problem or when their child has a problem.
Parents should look at all their child’s hobbies and the behavior, and even though everything might appear oaky on the outside, this overuse of the internet could hide deeper problems such as depression, substance abuse, eating disorders or anxiety. Included in this could also be behavior problems or learning difficulties.
When children become older and fall into the 18-25 age group, the profile can change slightly where work becomes missed, and the internet is used to be related to sex, drug problems, eating disorders and gambling.
In extreme cases, drugs can be used before chatrooms are frequented where the adolescent looks for someone to meet. Others tend to spend many hours shopping online or gambling.
Statistics of Internet Usage
Global statistics show that children from the ages of 8 to their mid-twenties are spending an average of over 44 hours per week glued to their device screens.
These studies show that 23% of children and teens report they feel as if they have a video game addiction. When gender is taken into consideration, this equates to 31% of males and 13% of females.
Dangers of too much screen time
Parents should try to limit their child’s time online each day. Other activities should be a much higher priority such as homework, reading, physical activities and extracurricular activities.
These are on top of eating healthily and having regular family interactions other than just at meal times.
Dangers that can come from spending too much time in front of a screen are obesity as there is little movement while a child is in front of their screen.
Parents are also letting their kids eat all the wrong foods which include snacks and high-calorie junk foods.
Getting to sleep is another problem as the children continue to obsess about the internet as they feel they will miss something.
Children have a higher risk of developing anxiety, depression and attention problems such as ADHD and ADD.
Signs of a child internet addict
Compulsive behavior begins to creep in with extended periods of internet usage. This can include the following:
- Loses interest in physical activities that used to be enjoyed
- Sacrifices household chores or homework to be on the internet
- Continually checks social media throughout the day
- When offline they only think of getting back online
- They prefer to be online rather than spending time with friends or family
When all or any of these happen they fall into a state of emotional fallout, and the following occurs:
- They become irritable, moody and depressed when offline for a few days
- They get agitated when access to the internet is restricted or denied
- They start to get angry or irritated if interrupted while online.
How to Manage Your Childs Time Online
As your child might spend countless hours on the internet, they could be open to hackers who spot their activity.
To make sure they are away from prying eyes it is wise to use a VPN Service to spoof their location and keep them away from any predators.
Change the computer position to a central location outside of their room and in view so you can see the screen.
Install software applications that will restrict your child from visiting various sites that are not suitable for their age. These should also be installed on any mobile devices they use as should a service from a VPN provider.
Hours should be limited to one hour per day for children aged 2-10 and two hours per day for 11-year-olds and teenagers.
Child safe browsers should be installed that screen web searches (safe search) for content that is inappropriate.
Internet addiction can be an easy way for children to escape the real world, and they tend to bottle up their painful feelings and situations that trouble them. Both of these, unfortunately, affect them as they get older.
If it is hard to restrict your child’s screen time even when using a VPN service, as a responsible parent you should spend some time asking why they are compelled to be online for so long.