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Parental Alert 2    Back

Internet Addiction

Recently psychologists in America concluded that it is indeed possible for your child to become psychologically addicted to the Internet. The addiction has been named Internet Addiction Disorder, or IAD. To be diagnosed as a "Dependent Internet User" with IAD, a child must meet at least four or more of the criteria set by the American Psychological Association. These criteria include such signs and symptoms as: your child can't stop thinking about the internet when they are offline; your child can't control the length of time they spend online and stays on longer and longer; your child gets angry or restless when not online; your child begins lying to family members about the extent of their internet involvement; your child's school grades start to suffer because of excessive internet use; and your child becomes socially isolated from school friends and school activities, preferring immersion in the virtual world of cyberspace.

Online chat and online gaming are both huge and popular areas of the internet attracting millions of children into interactive activities. The internet is a wonderful learning tool, but time online can just as easily be wasted. You need to be alert to the enormous powers of attraction that some parts of the internet hold over children, and take sensible steps to ensure that your children using the internet lead balanced lives.

As wise parents you may choose to enforce strict time management for your child's time online—for example one hour a day means one hour a day. You could encourage your child to be involved in meaningful activity online just as offline, rather than spending hours aimlessly chatting about nothing. You might also require socialization/play offline, i.e. away from the computer. This can be part of the agreement about having the internet in the first place—your child must not only maintain school grades but must also maintain offline social commitments to sport, youth clubs, community service etc. Finally you might consider keeping the computer in a shared living area of the house, as opposed to a bedroom, so that your child can not become isolated and lost in cyberspace.

Being aware of and minimizing the risks of internet addiction will help you to ensure that your child gets all the benefits of the internet. Remember—make sure your child leads a balanced life!



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