You are not alone if you struggle to get your kids off the internet. It has become more difficult than ever for parents to keep their children away from technology. But there is hope. I was able to cure my 12-year-old son of his internet addiction, and if we did, you can.
Read on to learn about our story, what we experienced and what we have done.
The story of how we discovered that our son had an addiction to the internet
My son is 12 years old, and he loves computers. He began using my laptop when he was just 6-7 years old. At that time, I noticed that he had a sort of sense of computer use. It was easy for him to find and start what he wanted. It was as if he had always been using the PC. He played games and watched videos first with our control and had a daily limit.
Over the years, his computer skills increased. He downloaded programs that were useful to his learning and learned about various program languages. To be honest, I was pleased that he found something he enjoyed so much, which was also useful. We live in an era when the need for programmers and IT professionals is high. We decided to purchase him a professional computer as we thought he might become one of those people one day.
His new PC became his best friend. He started using programs that I had not heard about before. He searched the internet to learn more and more. Somehow we were even proud of him because he was ahead of his peers in this field.
He spent all his time online and never wanted to go out or do anything else. The only activity that excited him was using his computer. After a few months, we noticed that this was the only thing that made him happy.
The effort we made to reduce his usage was unsuccessful. He was disappointed and uninterested when he was with us. He was always waiting for the moment when he could return to his desk.
Sadly, we did not realize that he was addicted to the internet soon enough. You know, almost every kid uses some kind of device nowadays, and we did not expect this addiction to be as bad as it is. For the purpose of learning more about internet addiction for children, my wife and I conducted extensive research on this subject. While our findings confirmed our fears, they also provided opportunities for us to assist him in disconnecting from technological devices.
Even though we’re still in the middle of the project, his addiction is steadily improving.
What signs we experienced about his internet addiction
- Mood swings: We were experiencing withdrawal symptoms when he wasn’t online. He became irritable, moody, and agitated. Sometimes even angry, which was strange for him since his personality is relatively calm. He was only excited when he sat behind his desk working on his projects.
- A change in eating habits: He was never hungry. Although this may sound absurd, it is true. Our efforts to invite him to join us for dinner were unsuccessful many times. And, when he was eating with us, he was always rushing.
- Changes in sleeping habits: It was hard for him to fall asleep.
- It became obvious that he was withdrawing from friends and family. He stopped hanging out with friends and talking to family members. His social isolation escalated considerably.
- Increased secrecy: Sometimes, when I stepped into his room and asked what he was doing, the answer was “Nothing.” I know he was doing something tricky that he did not want me to know.
- Grades declined: He lost interest in school subjects. Learning became a chore to him. He ignored virtually all of his responsibilities.
- He was always lying about time spent online.
- Difficulty focusing: When we’re talking about something, or he had to read something from a book, after 3 minutes, he could not concentrate. It was interesting that when he was working with his PC, he could focus so well, but in other situations, he could not.
Our approach to treating his internet addiction
We talked about the problem: We sat down and asked him if he had seen any changes in his life. He told us all the symptoms that we listed in the previous section. It was interesting to see he had already known about his problem. We told him that he has a problem called internet addiction. Of course, at first, he was shocked to hear the word addiction, but we described to him what this is all about and that we together would solve his problem.
A set of rules and guidelines were established: The first rule was that he was allowed to spend a maximum of two hours online per weekday after school and four hours at the weekend. We also decided that gradually we would decrease the amount of time spent online.
I installed parental controls: I installed software on his laptop from which I can check the amount of time and the activities he does. This gives him some control when we are not at home, so he cannot fool his grandmother when she looks after him.
Better grades led to more time: We also had to solve the lousy school performance problems. We agreed that better school results lead to bonus hours.
I check in on him regularly: I am not against learning with the PC. However, I cannot tolerate him watching brainwashing videos and playing idiotic games. The software shows me how much time he spends on these activities. His projects – website development, programming, etc. – interests me, so we will discuss them in more detail.
Our goal is to motivate him to take up a sport: I have participated in strength training throughout my life. Thanks to my home gym, I can exercise whenever I want. Since he did not wish to participate in any sports, I convinced him to become my coach. He has helped me train. At the moment, we do many exercises together because he loves it. I am very happy about this. We are motivated by each other’s efforts.
We are trying to find a new hobby for him: To tell the truth, we haven’t found a perfect alternative to computers. To get some inspiration, we took him to various places where he could get some input. For example, we have already been to a railway museum.
We made sure he had other friends to hang out with. Fortunately, he has some classmates who are not so interested in technology. We try to force him to be with these boys as much as possible.
Where we are now
Having begun using homemade treatments for his computer addiction, my son has desired to spend less time on the computer. Despite his love of computers, he has now understood that there is life without the internet and doing something too much damages his life. He can now enjoy other activities without being glued to a screen all the time.
We must be careful because internet addiction is a real problem, which is why we must say no to our children. I hope you found my story helpful and that you could implement some of the tips I shared above.