Is Your Child An Internet Addict?

It’s often difficult for parents to know how much time their children spend online.Often children play video games, view videos and browse social networking sites.

Spending too much time online can lead to the deterioration of your child’s school work and can cause problems with their relationships with family and friends.

Experts at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center warn that time spent online is at an all-time high, and rapidly increasing with children, tweens and teens.

“It’s easy to see why parents can be overwhelmed by their child’s excessive internet use,” said Dr. Fermin Gonzalez, Psychiatrist at JamaicaHospital Medical Center. “According to a recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, children ages 8 to 18 spend an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes a day consuming media for fun, including TV, music, video games and other content. About two-thirds of 8 to 18 year-olds had no rules on the amount of time spent watching TV, playing video games, or using a computer.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents limit their kids screen time for entertainment to less than two hours per day and children under 2 have no TV or internet exposure.

Research shows that academic failure correlates with addictive video game play, and to a higher incidence of attention problems. Conversely, academic achievers spend less time online.  Research has also revealed that child and adolescent video game addiction correlates with functional impairment, emotional problems, poor conduct, hyperactivity and peer problems, as well as with depression and social phobia. In addition, several studies have proven a relationship between excessive video game play and obesity and poor diet among children in grades 4 through 6.

Parents should discuss with their children their expectations for responsible online usage and set limits on how much time can be spent online.  Dr. Gonzalez suggests the following rules for internet use:

  • Regularly determine how much time your kids are online every day.
  • Don’t put a computer or game console in your child’s bedroom—rather put them in the living room.
  • Avoid online activity before bedtime.
  • Charge children’s cell or smart phone or other handheld devices overnight in your bedroom.
  • Be a role model. Set an example with your own internet usage.
  • Use an alarm clock or timer to limit your child’s time online.
  • Provide alternatives to online activity and video games: sports, reading, play dates, time with pets, etc.
  • Set a rule: no handheld devices at the table during meals.

For more information or to schedule an appointment for your child with one of Jamaica Hospital’s Child Psychiatrists, please call 718-206-5575.

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All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.