Update: GMA 7 embraced our advocacy and launched “think before you click” campaign
If you are a parent, should you be worried if your kid is spending a lot of time in the computer? If it is affecting his schooling, social life and household chore, then the answer is on the affirmative
What is internet addiction?
According to wikepedia, it is the excessive computer use that interferes with daily life. Web addiction, is also known as computer addiction, online addiction, cyber addiction, Internet overuse, problematic computer use or pathological computer use. This is commonly referred to as the “internet addiction disorder”.
A new disorder, dubbed by US Dr. Kimberly Young in a paper she presented in 1996, has become a global serious public disorder.
In the Philippines, the number of users needing help is alarming, according to this ABS CBN report .
Online addiction, according to Helpguide.org, covered the following areas:
- Cybersex Addiction – compulsive use of Internet pornography, adult chat rooms, or adult fantasy role-play sites impacting negatively on real-life intimate relationships.
- Cyber-Relationship Addiction – addiction to social networking, chat rooms and messaging to the point where virtual, online friends become more important than real-life relationships with family and friends.
- Net Compulsions – such as compulsive online gaming, gambling, stock trading, or compulsive use of online auction sites such as eBay, often resulting in financial and job-related problems.
- Information Overload – compulsive web surfing or database searching, leading to lower work productivity and less social interaction with family and friends.
- Computer Addiction – obsessive playing of off-line computer games, such as Solitaire or Minesweeper, or obsessive computer programming.
When “too much” is considered addictive
According to netaddiction.com, if five of these eight symptoms are true, then the person need serious routine alteration:
- Do you or your kid feel preoccupied with the Internet (think about previous online activity or anticipate next online session)?
- Do you or your kid feel the need to use the Internet with increasing amounts of time in order to achieve satisfaction?
- Have you or your kid repeatedly made unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back, or stop Internet use?
- Do you or your kid feel restless, moody, depressed, or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop Internet use?
- Do you or your kid stay online longer than originally intended?
- Have you or your kid jeopardized or risked the loss of significant relationship, job, educational or career opportunity because of the Internet?
- Have you or your kid lied to family members, therapist, or others to conceal the extent of involvement with the Internet?
- Do you or your kid use the Internet as a way of escaping from problems or of relieving a dysphoric mood (e.g., feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety, depression)?
This TEST will give you an idea the extent of your or your kids addiction to the web.
Physical symptoms of Internet addiction
According to Helpguide.org, web or computer addiction can also cause physical discomfort such as:
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (pain and numbness in hands and wrists)
- Dry eyes or strained vision
- Back aches and neck aches; severe headaches
- Sleep disturbances
- Pronounced weight gain or weight loss
Self help tips to break out from internet addiction
The University of California, San Francisco gave these tips to balance internet use:
- Ask yourself, “What am I missing out on when I spend so much time on the “Net?” Write these activities down and decrease your Internet time to do some of these activities.
- Set reasonable Internet use goals and stick to them. Take frequent breaks, at least 5 minutes each hour, and do some other activity.
- Alter your routine to break your usage patterns. If you spend evenings on the Internet, start limiting your use to mornings, or alternate your morning/evening usage.
- Find other people to talk to. Many people become hooked on the Internet through talking with others online. Find people in “real life” to talk to by joining a club, going to a concert, dining out with friends, or attending a training class.
- Examine the underlying issues. Frequently, Internet overuse is a symptom of some other problem, such as feelings of emptiness or self-doubt. Seek assistance for what’s going on underneath your Internet use.
- Seek out friends and acquaintances, who “couldn’t care less” about the Internet. Instead of trying to convert them to the power and magic of the “Net,” take time to appreciate the reality that all life is not yet online.
- Stay connected to the offline world. Visit newsstands, book and music stores, and participate in entertainment such as dance, museums, music, and live theater. Long novels and poetry readings are hard to experience online.
- Treat the Internet as a tool. Stay focused on the fact that the Internet is a means to an end. Plan your strategy—whether you’re looking for information or entertainment—with the end in mind and you’ll save valuable time.
For parents, you have a big role in altering the routine of your kid. For the next 60 days, the family should be involve and give support.
- Regulate and restrict use of computer.
- Introduce new activities in lieu of the time being spent in the computer, i.e. strengthen study habits, social activities, sports
- Provide support structure, i.e. involve relatives that can reinforce the new behavior.
At any rate, a professional help is always a better option.