November 01, 2013

Excessive online presence linked to medical and social disorders in children

Children should not spend more than two hours online - Study
Excessive media use can be linked to obesity, lack of sleep, school problems, aggression and other behaviour issues among children, new research in the US says.

Researchers of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) have claimed that spending long hours on social media has been linked to violence, cyber-bullying, school woes, obesity, lack of sleep and a host of other social and medical problems.

Excessive media use can be linked to obesity, lack of sleep, school problems, aggression and other behaviour issues among children, new research in the US says.

‘Many parents are clueless about the impact media exposure can have on their children,’ Victor Strasburger, lead author of a new AAP policy said.

The new study

A recent study shows that the average 8- to 10-year-old child spends nearly eight hours a day with different media, and older children and teens spend more than 11 hours per day. Kids who have a TV in their bedroom spend more time with media.

About 75 percent of 12-to 17-year-olds own cell phones, and nearly all teenagers use text messaging.

‘When 70 percent of children and teenagers have access to electronic media in their bedrooms, parents have no way of knowing what they are seeing, or downloading or texting. This is a plea for parents to take back control,’ Strasburger said.

Pediatricians have expressed concern about what kids are viewing, how much time they are spending with media, and privacy and safety issues with the Internet.

‘Media have an impact. Kids learn from what they are seeing. One violent movie isn’t going to turn your child into a mass murderer. But a constant diet of media violence is not healthy for kids, whether it’s video games or violent movies, or TV,’ he added.

How to overcome internet addiction

Are you an internet addict? Here are some tips to beat internet addiction:
  • Admission. Admit it. You are addicted to the net. It gives you the same rush, the same heady high of that first cigarette of the day. Admission is the first step to rehabilitation. This applies to any kind of addiction.
  • Be honest with yourself. Your virtual life has taken over your real life. In fact, you end up thinking I need to update/upload this on my profile. Your need to take perfect holiday pictures overrules the actual enjoyment of the holiday. You need to focus on staying in the present.
  • Think before you go online. Pause to think before you go online next time – what am I looking for? Why am I here? Making a mental note about what you plan to do once you are logged on gives you a direction to follow. Make a physical note if you must.
  • What did you do online? Reflect on what you did once you went online. Did you just view your Facebook account. Or did some window shopping on e-commerce sites? Find out where you’re wasting your time.
  • Stop wasting time. Decide beforehand the time limit you will spend on the net. Keep it to a minimum of 20 minutes. Twice a day should suffice.
  • Ignore smart phone notifications. Our smart phones have literally become our third appendage. You don’t have to check every single thing out. Just shut off the notifications from time to time.
Related article: Are you an internet addict?


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