Internet use have been increased markedly not only in India but also worldwide in the last decade. In India, use of internet is enormous, especially in the young population.There have been growing concerns worldwide for what has been labeled as “internet addiction” which refers to pathological compulsive internet use.
Symptoms of Internet Addiction/Warning Signs
- Increasing preoccupation with, and investment of resources (e.g., time,money, energy) on Internet-related activities
- Loses track of time while online, Sacrifices needed hours of sleep to spend time online
- Unpleasant feelings (e.g., depression,anxiety, loneliness, emptiness) when not online
- Negative impact on work/school performance, Spends time online in place of homework or chores
- Problems develop in existing relationships
- Difficulty in forming new offline relationships
- Prefers to spend time online rather than with friends or family
- Becomes agitated or angry when online time is interrupted
- Becomes irritable if not allowed access to the Internet
- Lies about amount of time spent online or "sneaks" online when no one is around
- Seems preoccupied with getting back online when away from the computer
- Loses interest in activities that were enjoyable before he or she had online access
Like addiction to drugs and alcohol, the Internet offers children and adolescents a way to escape painful feelings or troubling situations. They sacrifice needed hours of sleep to spend time online and withdraw from family and friends to escape into a comfortable online world that they have created and shaped.
Children who lack rewarding or nurturing relationships or who suffer from poor social and coping skills are at greater risk to developing inappropriate or excessive online habits. Because they feel alone, alienated, and have problems making new friends, they turn to invisible strangers in online chat rooms looking for the attention and companionship missing in their real lives. They may come from families with significant problems, and they cope with their problems by spending time online. The skill to develop face to face relationship is lost.Those addicted to Internet have high incidence of anxiety disorders and depression.
What parents can do
Technology will continue to advance and is not going away, so we’d better learn to ride the wave. Parents should work with their child to establish clear boundaries for limited Internet usage.Allow perhaps an hour per night after homework, with a few extra weekend hours.Stick to your rules and remember that you’re not simply trying to control him/her - you are working to free them of a psychological dependence. It is important for every parent to learn the terms (both technical and popular) and be comfortable with the computer, at least enough to know what your child is doing online.They should also reassure their children that they are not criticizing him or hampering his privacy but are concerned with the consequences of pathological internet use.