Every year, the number of people spending their free time in front of a computer screen increases. Unfortunately, not only adults but also children are struggling with this addiction. The digital era absorbs children’s minds from an early age. In this article, we will discuss how to prevent children from falling into the problem of computer addiction.
What is computer addiction?
Computer addiction is a special form of psychological dependence that manifests as an obsession with computer games.
Gaming addiction among children is truly a global phenomenon, as most gamers are of a young age. This category includes children and adolescents whose minds are still in the process of formation.
The accessibility that allows one to simply press a button on a gadget and immerse oneself in a parallel world is constantly tempting. But how do you determine where the line is between normalcy and pathology, and whether there is a treatment for computer addiction in children? Let’s take a closer look.
What does the science say?
Douglas Gentile, a professor at Iowa State University, developed a special questionnaire to assess pathological gaming in children in order to gain an understanding of computer addiction among them. Gentile surveyed 1,178 American children between the ages of 8 and 18, asking them to respond “Yes,” “No,” or “Sometimes” to each of the given questions.
Children were considered pathological gamers if they answered “Yes” or “Sometimes” to at least 6 out of the 11 questions. The professor evaluated the responses in several ways. When he combined “Yes” and “Sometimes” responses, approximately 20% of his sample met the criteria for virtual gaming addiction. When he counted only “Yes” responses, about 8% of children qualified as pathological gamers.
According to the scientist, this percentage is considered high. He is convinced that the number of gamers will increase with time.
Symptoms of computer addiction
Analyze whether the following statements are characteristic of your child’s behavior:
- Constantly glued to their digital devices;
- Gets upset when unable to access the computer;
- Lacks interest in other activities;
- Does not listen to you while playing;
- Discusses the game even when not playing.
If your child exhibits these symptoms, it may indicate their addiction to computer games. The presentation of the disease leads the child to lose self-control and self-criticism, gradually breaking down their personality and losing moral values.
Treatment for computer game addiction
The treatment for cyber addiction in children includes a range of measures that help the child cope with the problem and regain control of their life. Here are some ways that can help treat computer game addiction:
Set a limit on the amount of time your child can spend on the computer each day. This can be done by reaching an agreement with your child, as well as using parental control software. Discuss with your child what amount of time is reasonable for them to spend in front of the screen, and be willing to compromise to help them agree to the rule.
Also set restrictions on when during the day your child can be online. Keep in mind that activity during nighttime can have negative effects on a child’s mental health. Be prepared that it may take time to help your child overcome their computer addiction using such restrictions.
Find an alternative to the computer
This approach is not only a way of treating but also an excellent prevention of gaming addiction. If your child has truly become a hardcore gamer, prepare for very difficult days and weeks as their brain needs to reprogram itself. Be prepared for rejection of your other suggestions. However, this method of treating computer addiction in teenagers can work if:
- You allow them to choose an alternative game or accept their ideas for activities they would like to do.
- Encourage their endeavors in other areas.
- Allow your child to take a break.
Sometimes, in order to make a change, a child may not take any action and may experience apathy. This cannot be considered laziness. Let your child recover and they will find an activity they enjoy.
Visiting a therapist
If parents decide to seek treatment for computer addiction in teenagers from a specialist, it is important to consider some points:
- Look for a specialist who has experience in treating gaming addiction in teenagers. You can also look for a psychotherapist who specializes in family therapy, as involving the entire family can have a positive impact on the child’s recovery.
- It is important for your child to feel comfortable with the doctor and be willing to participate in the treatment process.
- Set realistic goals for the therapist. Completely giving up computer use may be impossible and even impractical, but you can ask them to adjust their behavior to establish boundaries for computer use.
- Consider cognitive-behavioral therapy. This type of treatment for computer addiction in children can help identify the reasons that lead to excessive computer use.
And remember, seeking help is a positive step towards a healthy and happy life for your child. However, not everything depends on the specialist – parents and the child must make enormous efforts to achieve the desired result.
Computer addiction is not yet included in the International Classification of Diseases and Mental Disorders. But unfortunately, with each passing year, the technological wave is engulfing more and more children, even preschoolers. We have covered the main strategies for how to rid your child of computer addiction. Be attentive to your child and don’t let them become a victim of the virtual world.