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How to Fight Computer Addiction in Teens

Curbing computer addiction in growing children is one of the challenges faced by modern day parents. Computers can be an endless source of amusement for teenagers, especially after the introduction of social networking sites, online dating, and the easy, free access to powerful online gaming platforms.

Deciding when enough is enough, in terms of excessive computer use is not easy. Some children simply outgrow this phase of their life and become well-adjusted individuals, others however may become even more addicted to computer use and start to experience social, emotional and even psychological problems.

Perhaps inability to adapt to the surrounding world in social and emotional aspect is one of the biggest problems for computer addicted teenagers. The computer creates a virtual world around the child, a world which is quite far from the real one in many respects.

  • Computers can distort reality, a young mind which is still developing is highly susceptible to the effects of excess computer use. Violent computer games, relatively easy access to websites with pornographic or disturbing content, as well as the risks of online date finding, can distort the perception of a young person.

  • Although computer use these days is much more social as compared to what it used to be, lack of real interaction between the teenager and their peers and friends can lead to permanent inability to maintain healthy relationships with intimate partners, family circle etc. later on.

 

  • There is also a physical side to computer addiction. Spending large portions of one’s day sitting in front of a computer will definitely have a detrimental effect on health and physique. Obesity, myopia, vascular problems, bad eating habits and lack of sleep are just some of the physical problems that come with excess computer use. Not addressing the problem timely can lead to serious health problems later on in life.

There is no universal solution to the computer addiction problem. Child psychologists remind that computer addiction is as powerful as drug addictions, which makes things more complex. Parents must find the right way to break the addiction, perhaps this is best done gradually. Here are some suggestions:

  • Limit computer use per day, make the child spend no longer than one or two hours in front of the screen; however if the computer is being used for school work or other educational activities you can be a little more liberal.

  • If the problem is serious, install a computer program that will log off the child when time is up, this won’t work if your kid is tech savvy though, plus the wide use of smartphones somewhat defies your efforts.

  • Move the computer to an open area of the house – don’t let the child keep it in their bedroom; usually this limits excess use, plus you keep an eye on what the kid is doing.

 

  • Try and find out what your child does online in order to pinpoint the problem, this is not easy and infringes their privacy but it is justified means to an end; restricting access to addictive programs, sites and games will cause their wrath but you should stand your ground.

 

  • Engage the child in different off-computer activities; consider their hobbies and interest (if there are any besides the computer), perhaps sports, interaction with other children etc.

 

  • Adopt the carrot and the stick approach – make your teenager do chores or help you with something, then reward them with a limited amount of time on the computer.

Teenagers will not hand over their computer privileges easily, be ready for tantrums and dramas, but stand firm as the problem must be dealt with as early as possible.

David Drasnin is a freelance writer who loves discussing topics like cars, gadgets, latest mobile apps, sports and movies. Currently he is involved in a number of projects the most current of them being a mutual initiative with Reliant Computer Services.

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