What are the effects of Prolonged Internet use on Children?
The Internet is one of the truly great creations of our times, it has changed and will continue to change the way we interact with each other, the way we do business and has expanded our limits, however all this change, as new as it is, comes with side effects that we as a society might not be paying enough attention to.
At this moment it is estimated that two out of every three 8 year old children access the internet on a daily basis, and nine out of ten teens not only use social media daily, but declare to be online almost constantly, making the side effects of constant internet exposure worthy of public health concern.
As complicated as it may be, some side effects of constant internet exposure have started to emerge.
According to clinical psychologist Kaleyvani Geeseeny Sawmy, author of “The Impact of Internet Use on Children/Adolescents”,the constant use of the internet on young children creates sedentary habits, which in turn is the prime risk factor for obesity.
Also prolonged computer use has been proven to cause repetitive motion injuries like carpal tunnel and also eye strain.
This is a common concern among educators, as it seems to be a trend for students who face a challenging homework or essays to plagiarize work from the internet, furthermore it is becoming more common for children to have difficulties concentrating on a single task, which is theorized to be caused by the constant multitasking that children get used to while using the internet, causing their attention span to shorten.
Isolation and Depression
According to Clinical Psychologist Geeseeny Sawmy, the instant nature of the internet stimulation changes the way young children see the world, which can cause them to feel boredom about everyday life.
The Health Department of the city of Manchester, warns that desensitization to violence is a consequence of excessive internet exposure on young children, both violent and pornographic exposure can alter a child´s perspective of the world.
However it is not all bad, many studies have shown that online games can enhance a persons spatial perception, teamwork abilities, effective communication and creativity.
The internet is also a great source of information, as long as the user knows where to find the information, and can judge good sources from bad sources.
Summary of the effects of too much internet usage on children
· repetitive motion injuries
· carpal tunnel
· eye strain
· difficulty concentrating on a single task
· boredom with everyday life
· desensitization to some subjects
What should a responsible parent be doing?
As I have shown, the internet has side effects that derive from overuse, however if used correctly it is the most efficient source of information, therefore as a parent your concern should not be on your child accessing the web, but rather on how much time he spends on it and what he does while online.
Your interest is making sure he learns how to use this amazing tool, without getting addicted to it.
As a first step, you need to be aware of what your child does on the internet, there are two ways you can go about this, you can constantly check your browser history to monitor the sites he or she visits, or you could buy programs that will block unwanted sites and even set time limits on internet access or set a schedule of when the internet is on or off.
Secondly if your child spends too much time on the computer you should talk to him about it, many children overuse computer as an escape mechanism, and if this is the case you should address it as soon as possible.
And finally you must understand internet use as a habit that was developed by your child, so for him to stop you will need to make an effort in order to break said habit, try to replace the time he or she spends on his or her computer with other activities preferably physical activities, and it is recommended to remove the computer from the child’s bedroom, this will make it easier to monitor his usage, and most of time it reduces the usage.