How to Stop Internet Addiction in High School Students

Addiction is generally considered to be related to substance abuse such as drugs or alcohol. However, behavioral addiction is not only possible, it is fairly widespread, and is relevant not only to gambling, but also to the internet. While it’s quite true that anyone who can use a keyboard can become addicted to the internet, it is especially troubling in high school students, and the internet can come to take the place of normal social interaction, either within the family or with others outside the home.

Why Teens Become Addicted to the Internet

The internet can be looked upon as having an embarrassment of riches – it offers a nearly endless source of entertainment and information. There are a number of reasons why high school students, especially, can become internet addicted:

  • Socially awkward teens can find it easier to interact with others online. Teens who are having trouble getting dates may take refuge in the internet, and often form online relationships with a fantasy persona. This pertains greatly to online video games where the players chat with one another.
  • Some young people already are addicted to drugs or alcohol, so developing an internet addiction is relatively easy.
  • People who are depressed or anxious are more at risk of becoming addicted to the internet, this provides an escape. Likewise, generally unhappy teens will take refuge in the internet.

The teenage years are among the most difficult in anyone’s life; young people are undergoing the stress of profound hormonal and physical changes – they are children struggling to become adults. Studies have found, also, that during these years, only about half of the brain is available for conscious thought – the rest is dealing with the maturation of the body. Parents and adults have complained about recalcitrant teens since time began, the problem now is that there are more factors available that can harm the teen – including an overuse of the internet.

The Problems Caused by Internet Addiction

As with any other addiction, there are both mental and physical problems associated with internet addiction, although the physical problems are hardly as profound as those found in those who abuse drugs and alcohol.

High school students who are internet addicted with focus almost exclusively on the computer screen, and will neglect school work and tasks that may be required in the home or outside. It’s easy for teens to become so immersed in the online world that they lose track of time completely, and often emerge only when physical needs intrude.

Because the internet addiction comes to play so large a part in the life of the student, normal relationships in the family or with classmates will be neglected – the young man or woman becomes isolated. Along with the feeling of isolation often comes a feeling of guilt, as well, and they will become defensive when asked to get off the computer.

The physical problems that can attend internet addiction can include back and neck problems, sleep disturbance, and carpal tunnel syndrome. Teens who start to snack while online will often experience unwanted and unhealthy weight gains.

Using the Internet Wisely

Although parents may be upset and dismayed by their son’s or daughter’s internet addiction, the internet it not going to go away – the worldwide web is simply too great a part of modern life. However, parents can help their high school students to break the hold of addiction and live a more complete life.

  • Limit internet use to a certain number of hours every day. Parents who also use the internet should also limit their use, too – setting a good example for the teen.
  • Help the teenager get involved in other activities. If the child has an interest in something else, sports or music, encourage participation in these. Hobbies are a good way to keep high school students busy, too. Just spending more time talking to the teen can help to break the internet addiction.
  • Changing the daily routine a bit can also help to break the addiction, taking the dog for a long walk or going to a flea market or local concert gets the teen away from the keyboard and interacting with others.
  • The high school student may respond more favorably to advice given by someone other than his or her parents. An adult such as a favorite uncle or aunt or a trusted coach can often be relied upon to help the teen overcome their addiction.
  • If measures to limit internet fail, it might be time for the family to seek counseling. All family members should be involved to help assure the greatest chance of success.

Regardless of how aggravating the high school student’s internet addiction may be, parents should avoid all scolding and lecturing – the teen will just tune them out. If the parents find themselves unable to avoid becoming emotional with this issue, outside help is definitely needed.

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