The internet is a wonderful way for children to learn and to connect with others. Unfortunately, there are many temptations and dangers online. Because of this, it is important to be vigilant and on the lookout for any signs of inappropriate internet use by your child. Here are some things to watch out for.
1. Carrying Electronic Devices Around
Carrying one’s device around everywhere is something that is becoming almost a normal thing to observe. But being constantly attached to an electronic device is not normal or healthy.
If your child is always carrying their smartphone or other device around, even when moving from one part of the room to another, there may be reason for concern. Your child may want to make sure that you do not see their communication, or they may simply be too addicted to put it down.
2. Being Secretive
Is your child spending hours online but sharing very little of the details with you? It is somewhat normal for children to want to withhold some personal information from their parents, but there is reason for concern if they become withdrawn about all their online activities.
If your child quickly shuts down their computer tabs when you walk in the room, investigate further. If your child’s computer history is being erased by them, it is serious enough to warrant a talk with your child about their internet habits and safety.
3. Lack of Interest in Other “Real Life” Activities
The internet can be appealing, but when it becomes more appealing than “real life” experiences, your child may be addicted.
If your child would rather sit at home and do online gaming than meet up with their friends in person, they may have a problem with inappropriate internet use. If your child who once loved basketball now sits at home, looking glazed in front of the computer screen, there is reason for concern.
4. Sacrifices Their Sleep to be Online
Children who are using the internet inappropriately often sacrifice their sleep in order to use it. Some children are intentionally hiding their activities and communicating with online friends that they know their parents would not approve of when they believe their parents will be asleep. Others simply see their internet activity as more important than their health.
A lack of sleep can be destructive to the well-being of a growing child, and for this reason it is very important monitor your child’s night-time internet use. A good idea is to have a “electronic device station” where every family member is required to check in their device at night and retrieve it in the morning.
5. Becomes Angry If Internet Is Removed
If your child lashes out at the mere thought of having their electronic device removed, they may be addicted to it. It is normal for a child to be upset when something they enjoy is taken away from them, but if their anger is quite severe, it is a warning sign that their online activity is playing far too important of a role in their life. Watch your child for signs of an angry response to internet limitations.
The internet can be a place to explore interests and learn many new things. It can be addictive, though, and sometimes dangerous. Let your child use the internet, but give them boundaries and keep them safe as they discover how to be online in a safe and healthy manner.