Did you know that young people between the ages of 8 & 18 spend an average of 10 hours and 45 minutes a day using some type of media? Much of that time is spent online. That equates to more than 75 hours a week and that is way too much.
21% of youth spend an amazing 16+ hours a day on media while 63% use media from 3 – 16 hours a day. Only 16% of young people use media less than 3 hours a day. Studies show that such heavy media usage is taking a toll on the health of the users including a higher risk for depression, increased obesity and development of sleep disorders. When one develops an actual “need” to be online it becomes a type of addiction and requires professional help in order to deal with it.
It is normal for young people to experience a spike in their internet usage at times, especially when there is a reason to do so. Chatting with a new friend, working on a homework assignment with classmates or playing a new online game might require additional time online for a short period of time but continually using the internet for long periods of time is not healthy.
If you are unsure as to whether your teenager is suffering from internet addiction here are some warning signs to look for in their behavior:
Constantly losses track of time while using the internet
Checks for new messages compulsively during waking hours
Becomes agitated when not online and is defensive when told to limit their internet usage
Sacrifices time they should be sleeping or doing homework or other important chores
Prefers being online to actually spending time with other people
Loses interest in activities they once enjoyed
Is happy when using the interned but seems depressed at other times. May also become very quiet and introverted when around others.
Disobeys the time limits that you have set for using the internet. This could include lying about the time they spend online and attempting to “sneak” online without your knowledge.
Experiences a negative change in behavior including aggression.
If a young person that you know is displaying many of these behaviors it is probably time to seek medical help.