Published: 08/14/2012 - Updated: 07/25/2016
Abuse or addiction to the Internet has now become a common problem among youth and adolescents, who prefer to spend hours in front of the computer instead of playing with friends, going to movies or just talking with the family.
Look, this is not a symptom in all of our children and there is not an article that seeks to demonize the power of the Internet and the era of new technologies. Nobody could do it, because its impact on learning and education is very positive.
However, there is a difference between use and abuse of the internet, which should be well instructed and detected by parents.
There are signs you can discover that shows your child is, not just "having a good time" on the internet, reading, researching a topic, perhaps chatting or playing, but may be crossing the thin line to addiction.
You must pay attention if he/she becomes excessively irritable, more if you interrupt while in the computer, if acts in a belligerent way or responses disproportionate when it’s time to disconnect from the internet.
If they prefer to stay off the computer instead of going out with a friend, a relative or a school friend. Communicate only chatting with friends or having virtual friends should be taken with care.
If you find that the teen does not care how she/he looks, or changes certain habits like going to bed early and prefers stay awake with some excuses daily.
If you note that the internet at home is far from being a positive contribution and only causes family problems that harms the environment and parent-child relationship, it is advisable that you go to a specialist, in order to prevent the problem from worsening and having addicted children.
It's a drug
Today we can say that addiction to Internet or video games, have the same characteristics as any other drug.
People addicted who stop using computers may experience anxiety and abstinence symptoms such as tremors, obsessive thoughts and involuntary typing movements of the fingers.
So far, research on Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD) has focused on the psychological evaluation, but a new study from China, which has used a technique of images by magnetic resonance (MRI) to see their effects on the structure of brain, has found that Internet addiction alters the brain's nerve connections in adolescents.
Scans were performed to seventeen teenage Internet addicts and sixteen non addicts, comparing the results.
In adolescents diagnosed with IAD, the scientists found evidence of disturbance in the nerve fibers of the "white matter" that connect vital parts of the brain involved in emotions, decision making and self-control.
While some prefer don’t recognize “addiction” to the internet as real problem and mention it as an impulse disorder, there are other positions from scholars and psychologists like Clara Marco and Mariano Chóliz, from the School of Basic Psychology from University of Valencia, that indicate in their publication "Internet addiction and social networks" that the abuse of the Internet can be a condition "where a person cannot quit because he/she needs more, or when stopping this activity generates discomfort and anxiety. "
"It's like having an abstinence syndrome" says.
In order to prevent the abuse of internet, it is necessary that parents start regulating hours a day in front of the screen. It is best not to exceed more than two hours.
Another way to prevent Internet addiction is promoting other activities in the children such as reading, exercising, doing sport, going to the country, talking, doing crafts, traditional games, etc.
Remember that it is in our hands as parents to ensure the physical and mental emotional health of our children. It is true that we cannot lock them in a bubble, but we can guide them and talk to them about the dangers of excess and lack of control, not only with new technology, but in general.
If on the downside, internet use can cause addiction, the positive side is that other studies and projects, as the "Matic" made in Europe, shows that children under 3 years exposed to new technologies achieve greater learning and knowledge that others who are educated in traditional ways.
The study was based on 52 small nursery of La Salle – Bonanova, Barcelona, children wew separated into two groups. One of them learned in the traditional way: with notebooks, textbooks, blackboards, etc. And the other with tablet computers and specific software.
Three months later, students who used the Tablet PC improved their scores on the mathematics in more than five points. In addition, 84.6% of these kids managed to have good or excellent ratings.
The project Matic also demonstrated another key aspect of new technologies: there are almost no moments of loss of focus on learning. That made it easier for students to undertake computer exercises four times better than those following a traditional education without the use of new technologies. In addition, the time required by teachers was less. Not only that, Matic project students became more independent, adventurous and curious by the possibilities that the use of digital tools in education offered them. Ultimately, they improved academic performance and social skills.