Is your child spending too much time online?

Spending too much time online is not a new problem, but many people don’t understand the long term impacts of Internet usage. The Internet can be a very helpful source of information for children and teens, but just like adults, they can become addicted to it. Taking a minute to check email or Facebook can snowball into spending hours watching YouTube videos and laughing at Internet memes. This can seem harmless, but important tasks such as chores and homework may become forgotten, which can affect grades and cause children to get into trouble with their parents and teachers.

Some signs to look for if you suspect that your child is spending too much time online:

Grades

Are your child’s grades slipping? Although there can be several reasons that can lead to decreased academic performance, spending too much time online can distract children from their studies. If you notice that you child is constantly on the computer, but his homework doesn’t get turned in, then there is obviously a problem, and he isn’t using his time on the Internet for academic purposes.

Decreased social activity

Does your teen socialize primarily through social networking sites, and not go out with her friends? Many teens are using the Internet to vicariously live out their social lives instead of subsidizing them.  If your teen is constantly texting or messaging friends and doesn’t go out as much as she used to or as much as you think she should, she could be addicted to the Internet.

Other negative behavior

Another sign that your child is spending too much time online, is being unusually defiant or having a negative attitude. Just like when playing video games, children can become so involved in their online world, that any distractions from it will cause a negative reaction. If your child gets grumpy if interrupted online, it might be time to pull the plug temporarily.

A great way to discourage spending too much time online is to have your child earn their time online. By getting good grades, participating in family activities (without the attitude), and doing household chores (again, without the attitude), your child can earn his time online.

Make sure to also encourage plenty of creative and outdoor play, as well. Childhood obesity can also be a sign of spending too much time online. Healthy, happy kids is the ultimate goal of any parent, and monitoring the amount of time your child spends online will help motivate them to find other forms of entertainment.