Preventing Internet Addiction
Today’s children have grown up surrounded by digital technology and the internet. While the online world provides endless information and educational resources, it also poses the risk of internet addiction. Internet addiction in kids is characterised by an inability to control urges to use the internet excessively, affecting daily life and relationships. As parents and caregivers, we must guide children to use technology responsibly.
There are several tips to prevent internet addiction:
- Establish clear limits for recreational screen time based on age-appropriate recommendations. Be very consistent in enforcing these limits during the week and weekends. Use parental controls and timers to restrict access.
- Dedicate time for engaging offline hobbies and activities every day. Arts and crafts boost creativity, reading enhances vocabulary and imagination, sports improve physical fitness and teamwork skills. Ensure they have ample offline leisure engagements tailored to their interests.
- Create tech-free zones at home by keeping devices out of bedrooms, off the dinner table, and away during family time. This encourages face-to-face conversations, shared meals, and better quality sleep without distraction.
- Educate children about the potential risks of internet overuse from a young age, including diminished real-world relationships, declining academic and job performance, and reduced emotional intelligence. Highlight the importance of balance and meaningful real-life interactions.
- Lead by example – demonstrate responsible technology use. Make a conscious effort to put down your own devices, take breaks from screens, and engage with your children. Kids are more likely to limit internet use if parents do the same.
- Have open discussions with your child about their online activities and experiences. Ask about what apps or platforms they use, who they interact with, and what they like about it. Address any safety concerns, cyberbullying, or questions about managing their time online.
- If your child exhibits withdrawal from normal activities, declining academic performance, or other issues indicating internet addiction, seek guidance from teachers or mental health professionals. Treatment may involve individual counselling, support groups, and family therapy.
With patience and preventative measures, we can make the internet a tool for learning rather than an unhealthy preoccupation during childhood. Let’s help kids reap the benefits of technology while protecting their well-being.
How can we prevent Internet addiction in children?
Monitor Their Computer Activity.
Don’t let your children spend time on the internet behind closed doors. Set daily limits on acceptable amounts of screen time — and make sure that these limits aren’t exceeded. Take the TVs and video game consoles out of your children’s rooms
How do I get my child off the internet?
Try a tech curfew, such as no internet after 7 or 8 p.m. Some families have instituted rules banning tablet or phone usage from 5-7 p.m., after which they allow a 30-minute window for responding to emails, messages, and texts, before having all devices turned off again at 7:30.