If you’ve noticed that your child or teen is troubled and seems to be exhibiting signs of internet addiction, you may be wondering what you should do. Becoming proactive is important.
How You Can Help Your Teen’s Internet Addiction
Talk to Your Teen
Before talking with a child, both parents need to agree that a problem exists, then it is possible to discuss how to approach him, what to say and do, and what goals should be set. Should one parent think no problem exists, a teen could appeal to the more doubtful parent, which could undermine efforts to help.
Plan ahead before approaching your teenager, and that includes being prepared for emotional responses or outbursts as your child may feel threatened by both cutting down on internet time and being confronted about it. Refrain from responding in the same manner and lecturing on other topics. Stay calm, and keep the focus on the internet use while also acknowledging his/her feelings.
Show You Care
When approaching anyone about a perceived problem, you should expect some denial. Also, kids and teens can interpret your concern as criticism or blame. Reassure them by saying you’re concerned about certain changes you’ve noticed – fatigue, lower grades, social withdrawal, etc.
Often with internet addiction, underlying issues are the true problem and reason for excessive internet use. Troubled teens turn to the internet and gaming as sources of distraction, comfort, or friendship. You may be able to begin a dialogue about what is bothering your teen.
Be Computer Smart
Part of internet addiction is lying about online activities. Going through internet logs, searching histories, or installing monitoring software can help you as a parent determine your child’s online behaviors, but doing so can take some know-how. Also, the internet has its own language, so learning both technical and popular terms will also provide insight into what your teen is doing online – what they’re saying and to whom.
A natural response may be to restrict computer use completely, but this isn’t the best idea for several reasons. Firstly, children may resent you and interpret the action as, “I’m a bad kid.” Secondly, studies have shown that internet addiction has withdrawal symptoms similar to those of substance addictions; people can experience feelings of nervousness, anger, and irritability. Thirdly, it is unrealistic. Computers and the internet are everyday tools in today’s modern society.
At first, try having them to log their online time and activities for a short time. This way you can learn how they spend time online, and if they refuse, you are perhaps dealing with denial of internet addiction. Reasonable internet rules could include an extra hour on school nights with more time allowed on weekends.
Remember the ultimate goal is not control over your teen but rather help him be less psychologically dependent on the internet.
Wilderness Therapy for Internet Addicted Teens
As much as parents want to help their children and try to do all they can, sometimes it isn’t enough. Seeking outside help is OK. A growing alternative to traditional therapy sessions is wilderness therapy for teens. Wilderness therapy programs have been able to help troubled adolescents deal with a variety of issues – from internet or substance addictions to mood behavior problems or poor social skills.
Hawaii’s Pacific Quest wilderness therapy program was set up with a belief in whole person wellness and sustainable growth. An important factor in that growth and change is family, an invaluable source of support. Pacific Quest offers the opportunity for parents to discuss their concerns and identify areas of struggle. So your teen is learning to become her best self, you can learn new parenting skills and strategies and how to better communication with her when she returns home.
For more information about Pacific Quests program, you can call or email and find out if Pacific Quest wilderness therapy program is right for your troubled teen.