Kids welcome summer break as a time when they can relax and spend time pursuing their own interests and hobbies.
Summer camp enrollment is down 10% – 20% these days. With more time at home this summer, kids are going to be spending even more hours behind a computer. This trend also means that more children will be spending time with their grandparents, and relying on the internet to keep in touch with their friends.
Spotting the signs of Internet addiction and avoiding the pitfalls can be difficult for parents and grandparents. Here are some tips:
Signs of Internet Addiction
• Your child/grandchild constantly checks email or changes status updates on their online profiles.
• Your child/grandchild gets angry or erupts if their time is interrupted on the computer.
• Your child/grandchild will miss appointments, skip meals, neglect ‘real life’ relationships or disengage in other activities to spend time on the computer.
• They lose track of time when on the computer or lie about how much they use the computer.
• They develop symptoms of anger or depression when they are away from the computer.
• They use the computer as an outlet rather than talking to you or confiding in friends.
Avoiding the Pitfalls
• Limit your child’s/grandchild ‘s time on the computer. Designate time (30-60 minutes per evening) for social time. Use an alarm clock or a timer if you have trouble keeping track of the time.
• Keep a family computer in a den or family room where it is out in the open, and encourage use of the computer in shared space rather than private bedrooms.
• Ask your child/grandchild to help you prepare meals and eat them together -without a T.V. or computer.
• Plan regular activities – - a bowling night or let them have a sleepover – -or any other activity that requires live human interaction, and not a computer monitor.
• Help your child/grandchild develop hobbies, or encourage the ones they have that do not involve lots of time in front of the computer.
• Encourage your child/grandchild to communicate via phone calls rather than instant messages or online chatting to keep in touch with friends.