To help prevent Internet addiction before it starts, try these tips:
1. Limit Time Online
The American Academy of Pediatrics says two hours tops of screen time should be the limit, but Demetri Christakis, MD, director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Hospital, thinks that’s too much and suggests just one hour.
2. Lead by Example
Don’t spend hours on the computer when your children are home and don’t update your Facebook status constantly when you should be focusing on family time.
3. Keep an Eye on Gamers
The type of game your child is playing can make a huge difference. The reality-based ones (such as World of Warcraft or Second Life) are the worst because they never end or shut off. “There’s always someone awake across the world ready to play,” says Dr. Christakis.
Look for these signs of a serious addiction:
1. Internet usage interferes with your child’s normal everyday activities such as getting ready for school, coming to family dinner or attending sports practices.
2. He doesn’t go to bed when he normally would and appears exhausted in the morning.
3. He can’t focus on homework long enough to finish an assignment without logging on to the computer.
4. If you try to cut down his Internet time, he becomes belligerent and abnormally irritated.
5. He’s lost any interest in things that used to excite him, such as hanging out with friends or playing outside.