I/ How to identify your child’s internet addiction?
According to Dr. Jerald Block, Internet addiction or the pathological use of internet has four major symptoms.
1-Impaired sense of the passage of time
You can say that your child is behaving like an internet addict if you notice that s/he is using the internet so excessively that s/he has lost the sense of the passage of time. The child no longer feels the need for food or sleep. According to a research from Stanford University School of Medicine in Silicon Valley in 2006 an internet addict may spend more than 30 hours a week on non-essential computer use and find a great difficulty abstaining for several days.
When prevented from going online, some children may show some physical or emotional disorders, such as nervousness, tension, depression, headaches, and insomnia. Typical computer addicts admitted that internet use affected their relationships and that they often resorted to the Internet to escape reality because they find difficulties to maintain normal social interactions.
3-Toleration or indulgence
Typical internet addicts usually show a great need for improving their internet abilities and a perceived need for new software. Most of them keep being preoccupied by thoughts of going online when offline. They are continuously worrying about missing the latest software such as the newest online games and social network pages.
4- Negative repercussions to the behavior
Most if not all internet addicts show behavioral disorders which might include arguments with friends or family members, chronic fatigue, problems at school or work, lying, violence following financial miscalculations, lack of achievement and social isolation.
II/ How to cure your child’s addiction yourself?
Most internet addiction therapies use time management techniques to help internet addicts develop alternative activities that take them away from the computer such as spending more time with their families, engaging in hobbies, or exercising. Corrective strategies include content-control software which uses time control functions that allow parents to set the amount of time during which their children can surf the net, play computer games or do other computer activities. The cognitive behavioral therapy is another technique which acknowledges that some behaviors cannot be controlled through rational thought, but they rather come forth through prior conditioning from the environment and other external or internal stimuli. Besides, most psychologists agree that, for Internet overuse, controlled use is a more practical goal than total abstinence. In fact, what makes the internet so addictive is the lack of limits and the absence of accountability. Therefore, parents can play a major role in curing their children or even preventing Internet overuse by teaching kids rules of good time managements at an early age. Giving children the opportunity to decide with parents about the weekend schedule is another way that might motivate them and help them stay away of their computers. If children get used to enjoy outdoors means of entertainment such as exercising or playing team games, visiting museums and art galleries, going to fun fairs, attending plays of theatre or circus performances, they will find a bigger choice of leisure time activities to fill their schedule with. Besides, they will grow up as active and responsible people who refuse to spend several days on non-essential computer use.