Hooked On Cyber-Life: When Screen Time Replaces Family Time

Digital addiction.

I always hear about how parents believe their kids or teens are addicted to the Internet and especially their cell phones.

The word addiction is usually related to substance abuse, however within today’s tech world, we are hearing more and more about “Internet addiction.”

Internet addiction can include a wide variety of behaviors or problems as it relates to technology. While some people become addicted to playing computer games, others are addicted to cyber-relationships or online gambling or shopping.

Like other addiction problems, Internet addictions can vary in intensity. But no addiction is considered healthy.

Here are three signs and symptoms you may be heading for Internet addiction:

All your spare time is spent online – Anger sets in when Internet time is interrupted. This leaves little time for anything else. Real offline life is ignored.

Your Social Outlet is Social Media – The Internet becomes an emotional outlet. When there are feelings of happiness, sadness, fear, grief, excitement, etc., the Internet is used as the outlet—the place to share or release those feelings.

Becoming withdrawn – Because so much time is spent online, there is little time left to share with friends, family, and others. Isolation sets in.

Constant connection: Teens are too attached to technology

How many teenagers go to bed with their cell phones? Parents, this is a habit that needs to be broken before it leads to addiction.

Owning a cell phone, especially with a data plan and texting, is a privilege. With privileges come boundaries. Parents, it is up to you to enforce your rules—no cell phones at bedtime.

Setting realistic restrictions

Determine the daily allotted time you want your kids to have online and stick with it. But when a project is due for school that requires Internet research, it is obvious they will need prolonged time online.

Like all things in life, there should be checks and balances in setting screen-time limits for your child.

I once heard of a parent that had her kids earn each hour they spent online for pleasure by doing chores. Of course there was a cap on it, but that is a great way to have your kids earn their time online.

At the end of the day nothing is more important than your family

Let’s be fair, social media is part of today’s world and we can’t run from it—on the contrary, we have to embrace it and teach our children to respect it.

While your kids need online time to create and maintain their positive digital profile, they also need face-to-face time with you. This is why it is so important to set rules and limitations on Internet usage.

When determining online-time restrictions for your children to circumvent Internet addiction, set aside some family time each week away from computers, tablets, and cell phones!

Do you believe Internet addiction could potentially become an issue in your family?

How many minutes/hours a day should a child be online for pleasure and how can your child earn their screen time?

Many parents have a variety of opinions depending on their child’s age and maturity.

Please share your opinions and thoughts for others to gain from your insights and experiences.

Published on: September 20, 2013
About the Author
Photo of Sue Scheff

In her book, Wit's End! Advice and Resources for Saving Your Out-of-Control Teen, Sue Scheff journals her own difficulties with her teen, as well as offers prescriptive advice for parents at their wit's end. Visit Sue at helpyourteens.com and suescheff.com for more great information.

Get Dr. Greene's Wellness RecommendationsSignup now to get Dr. Greene's healing philosophy, insight into medical trends, parenting tips, seasonal highlights, and health news delivered to your inbox every month.
Add your comment

Recent Comments

The no technology at bedtime thing isn’t just sage advice from an addiction standpoint, I find that leaving a 1-hour pre-bed no-technology gap a night and day difference (yes, pun) in the quality of my sleep. If I fall asleep watching House of Cards I’m always a little ashamed of myself to wake up next to a laptop staring me in the face :)