Both adults and children are easily susceptible to Internet addiction. However, the danger is more for kids as they are too young to chaff the good from evil and perceive the long-term outcomes of their actions. Furthermore, they have no idea how much is too much. As they mostly start by following their friends’ online activities, they resist any force to stop them from spending time online.
So does that mean it is difficult to control net addiction? No, just like drug or alcohol addiction, you can start training your child from an early age. Define ‘addiction’. Tell them that as long as a thing is used properly with beneficial results it is called ‘use’. If not used properly, it is called ‘abuse’. Too much time spent on the net per day amounts to net abuse and is detrimental to mental and physical health.
Give examples from real life to stress why Internet addiction is harmful. Without being dictatorial (don’t kids hate that!), work with them to formulate some basic internet usage rules or dos and don’ts for the household to follow. Do outline the penalties for breaching rules, but remember to tell your child that this does not mean you suspect him/her of any addiction and that you trust and love him/her.
If your child refuses to listen, regulate Internet usage hours using the parental control tool. Ensure that the child spends time on the playfields and has enough productive occupations to keep him busy in free time. Also, monitor what your child does online. It is not right to let a child of any age go online unsupervised.
If your reply is “No way, my child will not agree to this, I will quote myself and say “And why not? We hold our children’s hands when we are at a crowded railway station to keep them safe. Then why do we let them negotiate the Internet all by themselves?”
For a rebellious teen who will not accept being addicted to the net, why don’t you let him/her take the Internet addiction test? The questions and scores will help the child get third-party feedback about his/her online habits.
Usually, net addiction is a fad that corrects itself over time. Most children grow out of it as soon as they start developing other interests. On the other hand, some become more addicted with time. Their social life becomes non-existent and their academics suffer. Such children may need counselling to counter the problem.
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