Today’s teens have become well aware of digital gadgets and the internet since their childhood. They are born in the tech-advanced world where they get to know the internet pretty soon. Now, they are experts in it. Their lives revolve around the internet and they can hardly do anything without it. With this, parents are concerned more than ever about their mental and physical health that can be affected by too much use of the internet. They are afraid their kids are getting indulged in internet addiction.
Research shows that almost 92% of teens are online every day, and 24% of them have reported that they go online constantly after a regular interval of time. While some parents hardly take this seriously and have given their teens full authority over the use of the internet, it is not the issue that can be taken lightly. With the frequent use of the internet, teens are withdrawing from the real world and becoming more prone to issues like depression, anxiety, and stress. Many parents have also shown concerns about the use of parental control app for the safety of their teens.
How Is Internet Addiction Developed?
Anyone can fall into addiction no matter what age or gender. It could be an addiction to drugs, the internet, or any other thing. But some people are more prone to addiction than others because of some factors. Researches have concluded that people who have depression and anxiety issues are more vulnerable to internet addiction. This is the case with teens as well.
Teens are normally going through the tough part of their lives where they experience mood swings and emotional roller coasters all the time. If they are not able to control it, these swings can be the cause of underlying mental health issues in teens. These issues are a big risk that can lead to addiction.
Following factors make some teens more prone to internet addiction than others:
- Anxiety: Kids who feel anxiety over their academics, life achievements, social circles, or relationships are more likely to move towards the internet to feel good about themselves.
- Escaping: Kids feel a roller coaster of emotions sometimes. When they are not taught well to deal with it, they move towards other escaping sources where the internet plays a big role.
- ADHD: Teens who have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder may feel like they can get the attention they want from the internet.
- Mental Health Issues: Kids who are suffering from mental health issues can choose the internet as a way of feeling normal where they feel they can be accepted by everyone.
- A search for a new identity: Teens might want to be different and they can try their different identity over the internet. If this goes on, it can become their addiction.
It doesn’t require them to have some underlying mental issues, sometimes the kids are just overwhelmed by the emotions and the things going around them that they seek guidance and attention on the internet. They can also use the internet as a coping mechanism for the issues they are facing in their real lives. As a parent, even if you are not able to identify these underlying issues, you can look for the signs leading to internet addiction in your teens.
Symptoms of Internet Addiction in Teens
You might not be able to identify the issue that is not yet visible, but as a parent, you can easily notice the changes in their personalities. There are some changes that can indicate internet addiction such as:
- They are completely indulged in the use of the internet. Their communications are all about how to do this and that on the internet, this is what they want to talk about most of the time.
- They are becoming disinterested in the activities they used to love a while ago. They choose to spend their time on the internet rather than going out with friends.
- They don’t really admit the excessive use of the internet. They lie about it most of the time.
- They run away from responsibilities that can take up their time so that they can spend more time on the internet.
- They are showing significant changes in their sleep and eating routines.
- They usually get angry, stressed out, and anxious whenever you try to turn off the internet or take away their digital devices.
- They are stuck to their phones excessively. You can see them with their mobile phones throughout the day, and even during their bedtime.
You will also see them developing migraines, sleep disturbances, and eating regularities. According to a recent study, internet addiction can disrupt the adolescents’ sleep cycles. Brain scans have also revealed that technology addiction has adverse effects on the parts of the brain responsible for executing attention, decision making, cognitive control, and emotional processing.
Prevention – What Can Be Done?
It is completely justified for the parents to worry about the situation of their kids if they are suffering from internet addiction. At the very start, it might seem like a normal thing but as it progresses, it can have seriously negative effects on the health of teens that might be irreversible. In this scenario, what can parents do?
First of all, parents need to have clear communication with the kids about the pros and cons of the internet. They must be taught at the very start that they need to put a balance between reality and internet life. This communication should be as smooth as it can be. They should be involved in it and they shouldn’t feel like they are being controlled.
Secondly, the use of parental control apps is a wise decision for the parents who want to control the screen time of their teens and get ahead of them when there is any trouble. It allows the parents to know when their kids are in trouble, or what they are doing over the internet. It is always good to know about the activities of the kids to keep them protected. Moreover, there is a dire need to manage their screen time to make their sleeping habits healthy.