With the development of information technology, the Internet has fully integrated into people’s lives, especially teenagers. In the present era, most emerging adults/teenagers use the Internet as a tool for communication, either to acquire information or entertainment.
According to the article published in pewresearch, 45% of teenagers say they are online almost constantly, nearly doubling from the 2014-2015 survey where the number was only 24%. Teenagers are the primary users of the new technologies. The main purpose of their use is social interaction.
Even though the Internet makes life easier with its quick and easily accessible enhanced online learning and essential connectedness, it has also become a source of problems; internet addiction. Nowadays, it is almost impossible for teenagers to live without it.
Excessive Internet Use (EIU) can cause teenagers to develop internet addiction, also known as compulsive Internet or dysfunctional internet use, leading to severe mental health problems. If you are curious why teenagers are addicted to the Internet? What are the signs of internet disorder on teenagers and the negative impact of it? Then this article will help you out.
Why are teenagers addicted to the Internet?
Today’s teens cannot do anything without the Internet. They have never lived in the world without the Internet. They are more often tech-savvy than adults and always love to embrace new trends and technologies. They think being up to date with all new technologies is probably cool, trendy, and fashionable.
Some teenagers try to indulge in the internet world, thinking they might get famous or show off among friend’s circles, unknowingly pushing themselves into the internet trap by themselves. They believe that they have different persona online and can open up about their present life, choices, or be more themselves away from in-person family and peers.
Another reason teenagers get addicted to the Internet is that the Internet offers teenagers a way to escape painful feelings or situations, just like addiction to drugs and alcohol. Teenage is such a sensitive age where they try to act or behave maturely, thinking they are capable enough to handle their life problem by themselves, and end up feeling depressed or victim of a panic attack, anxiety, and depression. As per the article published in discoverymood, about 20% of all teens experience depression before adulthood.
They tend to fantasize that nobody is concerned about them or can understand them. As a result, they feel lonely. That loneliness they have imagined about by themselves brings them into the world of the Internet, thinking there are millions of people to whom they might open up but not with their family.
Internet addiction among teens is a growing concern. Still, if you have no idea about the signs of internet addiction disorder in teenagers, the below-mentioned information helps you out.
What are the signs of internet addiction disorder in a teenager?
Here is a list of signs of internet addiction disorder:
- Teenagers tend to be more introverted, reversed, and enjoy their own space. They love spending more time in social media interaction than in social interaction.
- They often sacrifice needed hours of sleep to spend their time online, which harms their physical and mental health.
- They ended up losing track of time online, which hampers their academic parts, such as dropping grades, not being able to submit an assignment on time, or sleeping in class.
- Teens seem to be irritated, moody, or depressed when not online or smartphones, laptops are taken away.
- They lose interest in other pastimes or activities they enjoy, such as hanging out with friends, watching movies together with family, or hobbies.
What is the negative impact of internet addiction on teenagers?
Beyond the numerous advantages offered by new technology and the Internet, there are some harmful effects. For example, here is some negative impact of internet addiction on teenagers:
Hamper mental health:
Internet addiction disorder harms teenagers on a psychological level. Teenagers who tend to spend most of their time online often get frustrated, depressed, or irritated when their smartphones or laptops are taken away.
Moreover, there also can be the case where they can get cheated by someone they met online that teens thought he/she is only the person whom they can trust blindly. Unfortunately, this results in depression, loneliness, mood swings, anxiety, guilt, dishonesty. As parents or family members, you will be utterly unknown about it and have no idea why your teens are behaving that way.
Your teens get more comfortable with online friends than with real ones. They show diminished interest in activities he/she once enjoyed. They prefer spending time on the computer, laptops to going outside with friends. They tend to develop close or intimate relationships with lots of individuals online. So to be in touch with them, teens remain online for hours and hours and often ended up feeling disconnected from family and peers.
An article published in npr shows that 84% of teenagers have a mobile phone. Phones, computers, or laptops have become an essential thing in a teen’s life. They carried them everywhere they go, even to bed, and ended up surfing the Internet for hours and hours to catch up on what’s happening around them. Some teens log out after a while, but most of them lose track of time and end up having issues like late sleep time, insufficient or restless sleep, and late waking time. As per the article published in omicsonline, 93% of internet addicts(high school students) have a sleeping disorder.
Unable to keep schedules:
Teens use the Internet to do many things such as searching information, data, facts, paying household bills, and doing financial transactions. However, internet addicts tend to spend more time browsing, chatting, or playing games online instead of doing what they are supposed to do. As a result, they lose track of time while doing such activities, and the results of such carelessness show in their grades and academic performance.
One of the negative impacts of internet addiction on teenagers is cyberbullying. This type of bullying that takes place over digital devices can show up on social media, apps, or via messages or emails. There can be the case where your teens did something like commenting on an actor’s post or trying to be more sarcastic but ended up being the target of the trolls. In such a case, it affects your teen’s mental health, loses confidence, and makes them isolated from online and real-world thinking; they are now a piece of jokes.
Physical discomfort or medical problem:
Being addicted to the Internet at an extreme level also harms on a physical level. Some medical problems that internet addict; teens may face are:
- Dry Eyes
- Severe Headache/Neck pain
- Eating Irregularities (Skipping Meals)
- Weight Gain or Loss
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Poor Personal Hygiene
How to deal with teenagers with internet addiction?
Dealing with teenagers takes a lot of patience because teens often think that whatever they are doing is always right, and parents always judge them for it. So as parents you must be conscious about it. However, some of the ways to deal with teenagers are listed below:
One of the most significant ways of controlling teenagers from using the Internet at an extreme level is by installing parental monitoring software on your mobile phones. Using parental monitoring software such as fenced.ai helps the parent to keep track of time and monitor all the activities done by their teens online. In addition, parents can also block some sites from viewing that they find mischievous through their devices while browsing their son/daughter’s search history.
You can also use some website blocker for your desktop application such as cold turkey to block distractions like social media, games, apps, YouTube, or even the entire Internet.
Set a timer:
You can reduce the time that your teens spend online by setting a time before they go online. Firstly, have a reasonable and logical talk about why your teens should try spending less time online and the consequences they can suffer if they won’t agree to do so. Then, make sure that your teens agree and are ready to commit that they get off their computers or smartphones when the timer goes off—some timer such as free timer, powerpom that you can use to set time on your pc.
Talk about mental health:
Talk to your teens about depression, anxiety, academic pressure, and other potential factors that might be causing them more additional Internet use. If you find they are suffering from such problems, then give them moral support, help them to get out of such situations. Make them understand that if they use the Internet to cope with stress or deal with other emotions, they will also need to develop coping skills to reduce their urges to internet usage.
Set the rituals of family time:
Parents must monitor and regulate their teen’s use of the Internet, lest it leads to addiction. Make a schedule pointing out when they can surf the Internet for how many hours. Create a rule that no phones are allowed while dining or whenever they are around with family members. As parents, you have to commit that they should be available for family interaction each day at a particular time or to help in other household chores.
If you watch lots of YouTube videos, shop online frequently, or check social media daily does not mean you are suffering from an internet addiction disorder. Instead, troubles come when these activities start to interfere and hamper your daily life.
Using the Internet is okay, but users need to be aware of the risks associated with overusing it. The Internet can interfere with our daily routines and create a sense of disorder.