77% of 8- to 15-year-olds said they’d rather give up TV than give up the Internet (Pangea Media and YPulse, 2009).
Most parents in the United States estimate that their children spend about two hours a month on the Internet, but in reality, kids and teens are spending upwards of 20 hours a month surfing the Web (Center for Media Research, 2009).
About 41 percent of U.S. teens claim their parents have no idea what they are looking at online (Center for Media Research, 2009).
76% of parents think the Internet helps their kids learn about other cultures and ideas (Common Sense Media and the Joan Ganz Cooney Center, 2008).
If your children spend a large amount of time at the computer, you may wonder, are they addicted or do they simply enjoy being online? Perhaps it’s easier to frame it like this: Can your child enjoy himself – and all those things that aren’t online – when he’s away from the computer? If you’re not sure, start observing his computer habits and moods.
All kids have trouble turning off the computer. Instant Messaging with friends seems so important, and games like World of Warcraft capture players’ attention and time -- a lot of it. Virtual worlds like Club Penguin or Teen Second Life can be equally engrossing.
But some kids go beyond procrastinating – they just can’t turn off the computer. Pay attention to how your child acts when the computer is taken away. If he becomes withdrawn, moody, and uncommunicative – and the mood goes away when he’s back online – it might be time to enforce some time limits.
The “off switches” in kids’ brains aren’t fully developed until kids reach their early 20s.That means they need rules and structure to help them turn off the computer. Developing children need to be able to have real lives independent of their cyber ones to develop socially, emotionally, and even physically. While some kids may blossom in the freedom and anonymity of online lives, they also need the interpersonal skills that online life can’t provide.
Computer dependency can also mask problems kids are having in the real world. Dr. Maressa Hecht Orzack, director of the Computer Addiction Study Center at Boston’s McLean Hospital, says she sees concerned parents – and their kids, mostly boys ages 11 to 19 – who think their kids are addicted to computers. She finds that many of these kids aren’t developing the coping mechanisms they will need to live life happily and successfully.