Internet Addiction is highly damaging and can ruin a child’s life literally.We have been hearing so many incidents of children becoming aggressive and violent in the current times. And when this happens we are left wondering as to what went wrong.

Kids trapped by the dark net
Internet addiction can ruin a child’s life

One of the most common challenges which confront the kids today is internet addiction and being glued to screen and the virtual world. While watching movies or playing video games for fun is not a bad idea, the trouble begins when it reaches the stage of addiction.

Now what is addiction? The dictionary definition of addiction says “Physically, mentally and emotionally dependent on a particular substance or activity.”

Psychologically speaking addiction is a dysfunction of the brain system that revolves around reward, motivation, and repetition. It’s about the way you crave a substance or activity, especially if it causes a compulsive or obsessive pursuit of “reward” and lack of concern over consequences.

In simple words it means that instead of deriving pleasure and satisfaction from real life and real people you are seeking it from illusions. The illusion can be created a drug or by mobile phone or by any other activity like being on the web at the cost of real life interactions.

Someone experiencing an addiction will:

  • be unable stay away from the substance or stop the addictive activity
  • display a lack of self-control
  • have an increased desire for the substance or activity
  • dismiss how their addiction may be causing problems
  • lack an emotional response
  • React violently if the object of obsession is taken away.

Over time, internet/mobile addictions can seriously interfere with daily life. Addictions typically worsen over time. They can lead to permanent health complications and serious consequences like inability to deal with life situations.

How does a child get into the mobile- internet -virtual world addiction? It starts harmlessly enough ….as means of entertainment and engagement. But at some point turns into an addiction:

Top three reasons why it turns into addiction

  1. Parents always glued to screen, yes that is the number one reason for addiction. A child will do what she sees not what she is being told. In fact when a child is told not to be on mobile for too long but sees parents using it all the time, the idea becomes more and more enticing for her. Forbidden fruit which the parents are eating is definitely very attractive.
  2. The second reason is an inadvertent encouragement from parents who many times allow long hours of screen time to kids to get some time for themselves. It keeps the child engaged, its low maintenance and it relatively safer than the child climbing tables and bookshelves. But is it really safe?
  3. The third reason it that after a while this cycle becomes self-perpetuating. Child with screen begins to lose on his ability to handle real life social situations. Since screen is medium of one way gratification ie the child does not need to make any effort to get what she wants from screen, it’s rather non-demanding. If she doesn’t like what the video or game is giving her she changes it till she gets what engages her. With real life friends and peers this approach is not possible so eventually real life goes out of the window and virtual life takes over. It’s easier. After some more time the child even if she wants to can’t deal with real social situations.

How the violent games or videos affect the child.

When we add violent nature of games and videos in the scenario it further worsens. The violent video games “socialise” children over time, pushing them to imitate the behaviour of the game’s characters, the cartoonish aggression, the trigger happy hero, unchecked rage, the easy brutality, the fast pace results and so on.

It has been found that playing games like  “Call of Duty,” “Killzone 3” or “Battlefield 3”  tremendously excites. In one recent study, Christopher Barlett, a psychologist at Iowa State University, led a research team that had 47 undergraduates play “Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance” for 15 minutes. Afterward, the team took various measures of arousal, both physical and psychological. It also tested whether the students would behave more aggressively, by having them dole out hot sauce to a fellow student who, they were told, did not like spicy food but had to swallow the sauce.

Sure enough, compared with a group who had played a nonviolent video game, those who had been engaged in “Mortal Kombat” were more aggressive across the board. They gave their fellow students significantly bigger portions of the hot sauce.

Many similar studies have found the same thing: A dose of violent gaming makes people act a more rudely than they would otherwise. In fact the socialization from games and videos often overshadows the socialization happening from parents, friends, siblings and so on due to the addiction factor.

This coupled with feeling socially isolated can really wreak havoc on the child. And we need to take care of that.

It is very important for parents to be aware of what’s in the games their kids are playing and think of it from a socialisation point of view: what kind of values, behavioural skills, and social scripts is the child learning?” (Dr. Anderson)#aggressioninchildren

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