Problematic Internet Use In Children
What does excessive internet use look like?
Media and technology are everywhere in our lives. Kids use technology for doing homework, talking to friend and for Netflix. When casual media use becomes excessive, it may be a sign of an underlying problem. When your child starts using the internet too much for things like social media, games, videos and music it can cause difficulties in their life. The problematic internet use can cause isolation from family, poor sleep, lack of real friendships and low grades. Children can use media to escape their problems or improve their mood, similar to how adults use alcohol to escape their own problems. If you child is spending a lot of time on electronics, it might to be time to ask why.
How do I know if my child has a problem with internet use?
Problematic interactive media use is associated with decreased school performance, poor sleep, weight gain and difficulty in relationships with family or friends. There are a couple of questions to ask about your child’s relationship with electronics
- Does your child become moody, irritable, or depressed when you have to stop their media use?
- Is your child constantly thinking about a certain type of media?
- Does your child spend more and more time with media in order to feel satisfied?
- Has your child tried to cut back on their media use, and found that they were unable to?
- Do your child end up using media for longer periods than they intend to?
- Has media use gotten in the way of school, sleep friends, or family?
- Has your child every lied to you or another adult about how much time they spend using media?
- Does your child use media to escape problems?
If you answered yes to two or more of the above questions, it maybe useful to reflect on your child’s social media use.
What are the treatments options for problematic internet use during childhood?
Problematic internet use in childhood is is often found in kids struggling with Depression, Anxiety and Attention-Deficient Hyperactive Disorder. A diagnostic evaluation can be helpful in identifying the reasons underlying internet overuse and identifying individualized strategies to help your child.
Behavioral strategies for helping your child will include designating screen-free zones in your home. Removing electronic from certain rooms can be helpful for your child. Additionally, it will be important to setup screen-free times in your home. Example of screen-free times includes dinner with family or turning off electronics 1 hour before bed. It will be important to help your child balance online and offline activity. Having your child participate in offline entertainment and hobbies can be helpful in treating internet overuse. Lastly make sure your child is getting enough sleep(8-9 hours) and exercise(60 minutes a day).
It is important to know why your child is using electronics excessively. Some kids use electronics to escape their worries about school or home life. Other kids find that it is difficult for them to focus on school work and get easily distracted as a result of their ADHD. Each child is unique and a diagnostic interview is necessary to help find the root cause of the internet overuse to get the best results to treat it.
For helping your child with problematic interactive media use make an appointment by calling us at 609-601-4161