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Today, it is impossible for teens and children to do anything without the Internet. However, as a parent, you must monitor and regulate your child's use of it, lest it leads to addiction.
Nowadays, individuals cutting across generations use the internet. However, it is children and teens who seem to use it a lot more than others. They use the internet for various reasons, from taking help for academics in the form of online tuitions, to staying connected with their peers and family. However, excessive internet use (EIU) can cause a child to develop internet addiction or compulsive internet use (CIU), which can have several ill effects. It can also result in a range of harmful behaviors such as wrongful use of social media, impulsive online buying, excessive video gaming, and online gaming, collectively termed as problematic use of the internet (PUI).
Let's look at some of the negative effects of internet addiction on children and teens.
1. Anxiety, sadness, and depression: Children who spend most of their time in the virtual world gradually withdraw from the real world. They soon become dependent on the internet to feel upbeat, accepted, and heard. And, when they are unable to access the Internet, they start experiencing anxiety, sadness, and depression.
2. Unable to keep schedules: Teens use the internet to do a lot of things like searching for information, corresponding, paying bills, and doing financial transactions. However, in the case of internet addicts, they spend most of their time engaged in browsing, chatting or gaming, instead of doing what they are actually supposed to do. Also, they are unable to keep track of the time they spend doing such activities. As a result, they lose track of time in the real world. Their studies and routine schedules are neglected.
3. Sleep deprivation: Most kids and teens nowadays own smartphones and/or tablets, which they carry with them wherever they go, even to bed. They also use these devices to hook on to the internet before going to sleep to catch up on what's happening around them. While well-adjusted teens may log off after a while, those addicted to the internet continue to browse for long hours. As a result, they suffer sleep-related issues like late sleep time, insufficient or restless sleep, and late waking time. This sleep deprivation/disturbance can also worsen or magnify symptoms of anxiety and depression.
4. Social isolation: Those who spend a lot of time on the internet tend to become a part of one or several online communities. They end up developing close friendships or intimate relationships with a lot of individuals. To remain connected with these individuals, Internet addicts stay online for long hours and often end up feeling disconnected from their families and peers.
5. Dishonesty and lying: Almost all internet addicts understand that they have a problem. However, when confronted or questioned by family members or friends, they try to conceal their habit by either lying or being dishonest about the time they spend on the Internet.
6. Mood changes: Internet addicts use the internet to reduce their stress and boost their mood. They feel happy or euphoric when they are connected to the internet. However, if they have to stop using the internet or are unable to access it, they become gloomy or irritated, and angry.
Irresponsible and indiscriminate use of the internet also negatively impacts society. Here's how:
If your child or teen is in possession of gadgets that help him connect to the internet whenever he wants to, be aware of the above-mentioned negative effects. As a parent, you can surely exercise control over your child's excessive internet usage, for the sake of their physical and mental health. And, if you suspect that your teen is an internet addict or is on his way to becoming one, do seek help from a counselor or a psychologist at the earliest.