There was a report this week in the Telegraph (4th October 2013) about the rising number of children that need to enter rehab in order to help them break away from internet addiction. There are children as young as eleven ending up in these facilities, costing upwards of £4,500 per week per child. These kids can spend up to ten hours a day online, becoming very aggressive if any attempt is made to prevent them from engaging in this behaviour.
The Dangers of Internet Addiction for Young People
Internet addiction might seem harmless when compared to alcohol or drug addiction, but this is not really the case at all. In fact, there have been many examples of teenagers becoming so negatively impacted by internet addiction that it drove them to suicide.
Spending too much time online during the important adolescent years can interfere with normal development. This makes it harder for young people to cope in the real world because they have not developed the social skills and coping strategies needed to survive. It also means that they can fall behind in their education, having a serious impact on their future prospects.
It is common for young people who spend too much time online to develop symptoms of depression. This can mean they develop a feeling of hopelessness and despair, which can then trigger suicidal thoughts. The young person can fall into a vicious cycle where they go online to escape their symptoms of depression, but this only leads to increased symptoms of depression.
Young people need to be active to get the most out of life. The fact that they are addicted to the online world means they are likely to be leading an almost sedentary lifestyle. This habit of physical inactivity can set the tone for the rest of their life, meaning that they are going to have poor health and will likely die at a younger age than would normally be expected.
When children use the internet too much then they are going to develop an addiction. It means that they will find it hard to cope unless they have access to the internet. The child who is addicted can lose interest in all the activities they used to enjoy; the only thing they now care about is getting online.
Symptoms of Internet Addiction
It is important that parents are able to spot the signs of internet addiction and the sooner this problem is addressed, the easier it is going to be to manage. Below are some of the most common symptoms of internet addiction:
- increasing amounts of time spent online
- loss of interest in activities the child used to enjoy
- defensiveness when their internet usage is brought into question
- problems with their school work
- attempts to hide the amount of time they are spending online
- they seem to only talk about their experiences online
- loss of interest in socialising
- unwillingness to go places unless the internet is going to be available
How to Get Help for Internet Addiction
Internet addiction does have the potential to destroy the lives of youngsters so it is therefore vital that help is provided so they can break away from this behaviour. In many cases, the best type of treatment will involve some type of inpatient rehabilitation program. This type of intervention not only helps them break away from the addiction, but it also allows them to build a life where they no longer feel the need to engage in this type of extreme behaviour.