TEEN BOARDING SCHOOLS
You're concerned that your teen may be spending too much time playing computer games or chatting online, but you don't know how to determine whether it's just a passing fancy or it's turning into a real addiction. Here are some warning signs of a more serious problem:
- You notice marked changes in mood or behavior, or a dramatic drop in grades.
- Your child is struggling at school because he stays up late chatting online with friends, spends all his time on the computer instead of doing homework, or has lost interest in the real world. Check your teen's Facebook wall for graffiti and see if he has new friends on MySpace.
- Instead of sneaking out of the house, perhaps you find your teen getting up in the middle of the night to use the computer without anyone knowing.
- Your child lies about how much time they spend online or playing games, or tries to hide the activities he is engaged in while on the Internet.
- Your teen becomes aggressive or ill-tempered if access to the computer or video game console is denied.
- Your teen continues to spend increasing amounts of time on the computer or playing video games in spite of negative consequences such as loss of friends, drop in grades, or disapproval of family members.
- Your child can't seem to control the amount of time he spends on the computer or playing games.
If your credit card bills show unusual activity, you may have an online shopaholic. Tennis star Serena Williams admitted in an Associated Press interview when she was 19 that she was spending six hours a day shopping online. "It hit its worst at the French Open. Every day I was in my room and I was online," Williams was quoted. "I wasn't about to stop, and I bought, bought, bought, bought, bought."
If your teenager would rather spend time online than with friends or family members, that may be an indication that something is not right in the real world. Many experts say that over-using the computer, video games, or the Internet may be a symptom rather than the problem.
Ask your teen if there is something he would rather be doing than spending time online or playing video games. If he has trouble coming up with any ideas, then it's time to consider getting serious about finding help to overcome the problem.