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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Helping a Child with Internet Addiction

Encourage other interests

Get your child out from behind the computer screen. Expose kids to other hobbies and activities, including sports, music, art, and educational or cultural pastimes. Take your kid to a ball game or a play, sign up for swimming lessons or a ceramics class, visit your local library or a museum.

Encourage social activities

Excessive computer use can be isolating. Help your child reconnect with other children and make new friends. Options include team sports, the Boy or Girl Scouts, and afterschool clubs.

Set clear limits and rules

Establish rules about when and for how long your child can surf online. Limit the amount of Internet time your child is allowed each day, and restrict Internet use until homework and chores are done.

Monitor computer use

Make sure the computer is in a common area of the house where you can keep an eye on your child's online activity. While personal supervision is essential, parental control software can be a useful supplementary tool.

Be a good role model

Your child looks to you as an example. Make sure your own computer use is not out of control. It will be difficult to enforce Internet rules if your child sees you breaking them.

Seek professional counseling

If your child has an Internet addiction, it may indicate a deeper problem such as anxiety or depression. If symptoms are severe or you're concerned about your child's emotional state, schedule an appointment with a mental health professional.

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