Internet Addiction of the Young and Not so Young

AddictionParents today have no shortage of things to worry about when it comes to the online world in which their kids are growing up. From online predators, to scam artists and explicit pages, the web houses many threats to today’s youth. However, in addition to these known digital dangers, parents should also be wary of the long-term damage their children are doing to themselves every time they place themselves in front of their laptop, tablet, or other mobile device.

With the average U.S. internet user spending 32 hours online per month, it’s evident that the digital revolution shows no signs of slowing anytime soon, and sadly, our children’s minds and bodies could eventually pay the price for it. Read on for an overview of just some of the effects our children—from toddlers to teens—may have to deal with in the future.

Impaired Vision

Sure bad vision and corrective eyewear are by no means new concepts, but unlike past generations who only had to worry about genetics or age sabotaging their sight, adolescents now have to consider how their extended periods of screen time might affect their eyes. Bright, beaming screens reflecting onto our faces for the majority of the day is far from healthy. Recent studies suggest that approximately 17% of all eye exams performed in a year were initiated due to indicators such as light sensitivity, double or blurred vision, eye strain and even dry eye—symptoms associated with Computer Vision Syndrome. Sure, the majority of us are all exposed to inordinate amounts of digital screens daily, but today’s youth have never known a world without it. Cell phones, tablets and laptops have always been a part of their life, and most likely always will be, leaving them with an entire lifetime of eyestrain and exhaustion.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Another physical impairment the children of today have to look forward to in the future is the onset of carpal tunnel syndrome. Characterized as a nerve dysfunction, symptoms include numbness, tingling and muscle weakness in the hand, wrist and fingers. Hours of typing away on keyboards, phones and other gadgets is one of the main causes of the wear and tear. Numerous people already show signs of the disorder and as time goes on it’s likely only to get worse—as time spent online increases. Before, it was bad enough that someone was subjected to this from 9-5 while they were at work, but now everything from classes to games and even meetings are conducted via virtual means and require us to subject our and bodies to this overuse.

This is especially hard on children who have been dealing with this since these advancing methods since they could read and write. Time will only tell how soon they will start to feel the effects of this excessive action.

Inactivity

There’s no denying that the more time we spend sedentarily staring into a screen, the less time we are allowing ourselves to exercise and be fit. Sure some people are still disciplined enough to unplug, get up and DO SOMETHING active, but, obviously this isn’t always the case. And children will follow your lead, so if they see you coming home from work and planting yourself behind a sea of screens rather than enjoying the day, odds are they’ll do the same. This can be detrimental to your child in the long run—not only will they increase their chances of gaining weight, they will also risk weakening their bones—which can prove problematic the older they get.

Overview

Now, this is not to say that all online activity or screen time is a bad thing; it can actually be quite helpful and efficient. The digital revolution has streamlined many activities and practices, we just have to maintain a healthy balance and not abuse our gadgets and technology. As our children and teens age, their bodies will and minds will face obstacles with which we never had to deal—which may cause issues in terms of insurance coverage and health care in their adult lives.

As more and more schools and businesses move online and embrace the digital age—it’s important to give yourself time to unwind, or risk becoming a liability.

Contributor: Carol Wilson

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Teen Internet Addiction: Facebook Addict – Warning Signs and Treatment Tips

Does your teen’s life revolve around Facebook?

The Faculty of Psychology at the University of Bergen in Norway has found that Facebook addiction is real, and younger Facebook users, including teens, are the most susceptible to addiction.

Facebook addiction, like any addiction, has noticeably detrimental effects. It interferes with a person’s day-to-day life and causes him or her to neglect responsibilities. For your teen, this could mean that Facebook dependence could interfere with academic performance and have a negative impact on your child’s relationships with family members and friends. With some research linking excessive social media use to depression in teens, Facebook addiction could even take a toll on your teen’s mental health.

The researchers at the University of Bergen have developed a Facebook addiction scale that helps determine whether someone is unhealthily dependent on Facebook.

Here are some of the warning signs that could indicate that your teen is addicted to Facebook, according to their research:

1. Your teen spends an excessive amount of time on Facebook and plans his or her day around using the social media site.
2. Your son or daughter’s Facebook use has steadily increased since he or she began using the website.
3. Facebook seems to be a means of escaping from the pressures of everyday life for your teen.
4. When Facebook time is limited, your child becomes agitated and upset.
5. Homework and studying takes a backseat to Facebook, and your child’s grades suffer. His or her dreams of getting into an Ivy League college have fallen by the wayside. Facebook is now your teen’s top priority.

Since Facebook addiction is a relatively recent phenomenon, there isn’t much research that indicates how to treat it. Researchers have been aware of internet addiction, which is similar in many respects to Facebook addiction, for a while.

If you want to help treat your son or daughter’s Facebook addiction, you might want to try out some of these strategies, which are based on the findings of internet addiction researchers at the University of California, San Francisco:

1. Sit down with your teen and come up with a list of all of his or her favorite activities that aren’t related to Facebook. Take the list out whenever your child has some free time, and encourage him or her to take part in the activities on the list.
2. Set time limits for your teen’s internet use. If your teen’s only able to spend forty-five minutes on the computer each evening, it’ll be rather difficult for him or her to stay addicted to Facebook. If you try out this strategy, you can expect that your teen won’t be very happy at first. Just remember that you’re the parent, you’re in control, and you’re doing what’s best for your child.
3. Reward your teen for decreased Facebook use. Each week or month your child uses Facebook appropriately, reward him or her with a book, movie, mp3, trip to the museum, or other incentive. This will help encourage healthy internet habits and encourage interest in other forms of entertainment that are separate from Facebook.
4. If your teen’s Facebook addiction is particularly worrisome, consider therapy and medication options. Certain types of medication have worked wonders for people with internet addiction. Talk to your family doctor about treatment in the form of medication, and consider setting up an appointment for your teen to meet with a therapist.

Facebook addiction is a real problem. If you think your teen is dependent on Facebook, it’s your job to be proactive about it and nip the dependence in the bud. The life of a teenager should be exciting and full of opportunities. So, don’t let any sort of addiction hinder your child’s growth into a healthy and happy adult.

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