We are living in a digital age, and it’s putting our children at risk in more ways than we may suspect. There’s the much-publicized risk of Internet predators and cyber-bullying, but Internet and smartphone addiction is a new concern parents should be on the lookout for.
Our own electronics addiction is no secret, as we live in an age of instant gratification. If you have a question, you can simply Google it, and find your answer immediately. If you want to order food, there’s an app for that, and your meal will be hot and ready when you pick it up. Approximately 67% of Internet users say they shop online because a wider variety of options are available.
Our growing love for the Internet and smartphones is rubbing off on the younger generation, as kids are getting online and getting smartphones at a younger and younger age. But their addiction can have an even more serious effect.
In recent news, a 15-year-old boy tried to stab his mother because she tried to stop his Internet access, turned off his computer, and took away his smartphone. When he was taken in for treatment, he stripped to protest the fact that he was not given unhindered Internet access.
While this is an extreme example, a recent study by the American Academy of Pediatrics points out that Internet addiction maay hit much closer to home than you may realize. Here are some of the statistics:
Fully 75% of 12-to-17-year-olds own cell phones, and nearly all teenagers use text messaging.
The average child eight to 10 years old spends nearly eight hours a day with different media, and older children and teens spend more than 11 hours per day.
Kids who have a TV in their bedroom spend more time with media.
The amount of time a child spends on smartphones and other technological devices should be lowered, as it can lead to obesity, lack of sleep, school problems, aggression, and other behavior issues among children.
Scientists have termed this as Internet addiction, and another study found that the addiction has the same effect on a person’s brain as drug addiction does. In fact, the 15-year-old who attacked his mother showed the same signs of withdrawal, including sweating and fidgeting, that a drug addict would suffer if he were being rehabilitated for his addiction.
The best way for parents to protect their child from this kind of addiction is to monitor their child’s access to and use of electronic media, and be on the lookout for any changes in behavior or signs that indicate your child may be addicted, like a diminishing social life.
But parents also have the responsibility of educating their children about the dangers of the Internet, and helping to protect them from those dangers. Parental control features can control what sites children are visiting. Children should also be warned against sharing personal information online.