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Is it difficult to take your child away from the phone or the computer screen? Is he always texting or downloading something? He may be addicted to the Net. We tell you how to deal with it.
The use of the Internet can have a positive as well as a negative impact on children. The benefits of using online tools are many —they make a child more creative, motivate him to be a good learner, and encourage him to be a good researcher. However, the negative aspects of using the Net often outweigh its benefits. One of the main problems is Internet addiction among children. Child internet addicts are often initially allured by online games. However, they may eventually be exposed to unwanted or obscene content on the Net or even commit a cybercrime.
Internet addiction not only affects your child's behavior but could also get him into trouble with the law if not checked at the right time. Like drug addiction, with Internet addiction, children also start showing symptoms of behavior disorders when they are forbidden access to their devices and the Net.
Here are some ways online addiction could affect your child:
Exposure to inappropriate content: Your child may not only be exposed to unwanted content but may also get trapped by becoming a contributor and a consumer of obscene content like pornography, or get hooked to violent content.
Sharing of personal information and pictures: If your child is addicted to uploading pictures on the Net, in doing so she may accidentally violate someone's privacy. She may have accessed inappropriate personal pictures through your phone or social media profiles. Also, children may be asked by agents to click on inappropriate pictures. These agents indulge in unethical practices such as uploading 'voyeuristic' pictures of women and children. Children who 'supply' these pictures unknowingly may also be hooked to the Internet to see where their pictures have been uploaded and how big a 'fan following' they have.
Exposure to violent content: A child addicted to playing violent games on the internet may be tempted to create or post violent content online. This may cause her to behave rudely or violently, and may even turn her into a bully.
Legal implications: Parents also need to understand that their child's Internet addiction runs the risk of getting into legal issues. Under the various provisions in the Information Technology Act, POCSO Act, Indian Penal code, etc., children can be booked and punished with a minimum jail term of two to three years, for committing the following offenses:
For offenders between 16 and 17 years of age, the law may not consider their level of maturity or their gender when imposing strict punishment, especially if they have been part of heinous crimes. The punishment in such cases may be heavier and they may be treated like adult offenders.
So, what are the effective ways of handling Internet addiction in children? Here are five important tips:
If parents set a good example by restricting their own gadgets and internet usage children may learn to follow their parents. Keep your child safe by regulating and monitoring internet usage at home. Model the behavior you want to see in your child.