Technology Addiction with Children

Meet Susan and her son Adam… Adam is 24 years old and lives with her and plays League of Legends video game 9 hours a day. Adam has a part time job at Papa John’s. Susan has watched her son become an introvert over the past 6 years.

Do you think Susan’s dream for Adam when he was younger was to be living at home at age 24, working part time and consumed by a video game? Of course not.

With the school year coming to a close for children, I wanted to give a warning. As you start the summer with your kids, no matter what the age, I strongly encourage you to pray and stand firm in your rules regarding technology use in your house.

I speak from experience. I speak from a place of regret.  Regret that I didn’t stand firm in my household.  It’s difficult; even more difficult if you have a child with ADD, ADHD or Asperger’s.

Recently I read Cyber Junkie: Escape the Gaming and Internet Trap,” by Kevin Roberts.  The first part of the book is Roberts giving an overall view of his own personal addiction and the path he took to get there. The last half of the book he explains the difficult process he had climbing out of his gaming addiction along with a step-by-step recovery guide for parents.  There is a section on resources for parents also at the end of the book.

There are 20 signs of cyber addiction Roberts shares and I want to share with you. If you aren’t already noticing if your child spends too much time on their cellphone, computer or gaming system, then you need to be aware that this can become a true addiction.

Warning signs of cyber addiction

  1. Time Warp: Inability to determine time spent on cyber activities
  2. Lying about cyber activities
  3. Changes in sleep patterns
  4. Craving cyber activities
  5. Withdrawing from friends and family
  6. Losing interest in other hobbies
  7. Internet use for more than 2 hours a day 4 days a week
  8. Poor performance at school or work
  9. Physical ailments: back ache, carpal tunnel syndrome, stiff neck , nerve pain, and eye strain
  10. Inability to see the negative consequences of cyber activities
  11. Buying things within a game that cost real money to gain skills only useful to that game
  12. Eating meals at the computer
  13. Glorifying cyber activities
  14. Emotional disturbances when electronic devices are taken away
  15. Mood swings
  16. Withdraw systems: headaches, light headedness
  17. Continuing cyber activities despite many negative consequences
  18. Persistent inability to cut down on cyber activity
  19. Ever increasing amounts of time spent on cyber activity
  20. Obsessing about cyber activity when not online

Number 19 is what concerns me since kids are out of school for the summer with lots of free time.  As a parent I understand that you are busy and there are things that have to get done. All technology helps parents in times of need to entertain. Have you noticed more and more kids in shopping carts with iPhones and iPads, and at dinner tables in restaurants? Sometimes parents put kids in front of electronics in order to get work done around the house. I UNDERSTAND!

If your child or children have four or more of the above warning signs, for more than three months, this should trigger an alarm. Like any addiction, if you leave the cyber addiction untreated to fester it can destroy a person’s life. It’s our job as parents to be aware. It’s one thing to talk to your kids about cyber limits, but then you must help them plan for the rest of their day; because they’ll get bored and boredom leads back to electronics.

Spend quality time with your kids.  This summer make memories through experiences rather than allowing them to have unlimited time with the Internet.  If you don’t start setting limits for technology now, your life might look like Susan’s in the future.

At the time of this writing I found at least 12 other books on internet addiction for teens.

Roberts has a “Tech Cleanse “ article on his blog. Check it out.

I’m interested in hearing your story. Please feel free to comment below.