Youth Life Conference Notes: Internet
Internet dieting can be good for your health
By Kevin Schick, M.A., LCPC
Call it a digital diet, a media diet, or an internet diet – call it whatever you want. It can be one in the same. Unless we are aware of and intentional with our electronic and media use, over-consumption is practically inevitable.
Whenever something is overused, you risk addiction. Studies show internet addiction is real. Frequent and extended internet use actually affects impulse control and changes our brains in ways that are similar to brain changes in alcoholics and smokers. For this reason we should be wise and discerning in our use. We should practice moderation.
It’s important to remember that the internet and technology are not inherently bad or evil. The problem is the user error of over-consumption and ultimately replacing real community with a virtual community. The internet should not be our only means of interacting with others. In “The Sound of Silence,” Simon and Garfunkel sang about “people talking without speaking, people hearing without listening, people writing songs that voices never share.” Humans need human interaction. In the digital age, face-to-face relationships can be hard to prioritize.
Consider practicing digital Sabbaths. Hitting the pause button regularly can help break brain habituation that can lead to enslavement and addiction. Like Paul, we want to say, “…I will not be enslaved by anything.”
How do I know if I’m addicted?
Are you concerned that you or someone you love is addicted to the internet? Ask the following questions:
- Do you feel preoccupied with the internet?
- Do you feel the need to use the internet with increasing amounts of time in order to feel satisfaction?
- Have you repeatedly made unsuccessful attempts to control, cut back or stop internet use?
- Do you feel restless, moody, depressed, or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop internet use?
- Do you stay online longer than intended?
- Have you jeopardized or risked the loss of a significant relationship, job, educational or career opportunity because of internet use?
- Have you lied to family members or others to conceal the extent of involvement with the internet?
- Do you use the internet as a way of escaping from problems or of relieving unwanted feelings?
If you are concerned about the answers to these questions please pray for wisdom and discernment and talk with someone.
Source: Young’s Diagnostic Questionnaire for Internet Addiction adapted by Beard and Wolf. (This information was found on the greatest resource ever invented, the internet).
Guidelines for guiding children in the digital age: Some Dos and Don’ts
Teaching proper behavior for the internet (netiquette) and setting boundaries to avoid overuse is critical for parenting in this century.
- Do set age-appropriate limits for time on the computer and websites that can be accessed;
- Do involve the whole family in internet or computer activities such as researching various topics, family vacation planning, making a video of family pictures, or making a family blog. These times can be opportunities to teach about positive digital habits and can be fun and bonding experiences that everyone will be blessed by;
- Don’t allow computers to be used in private places. Do keep all computer usage in visible, public areas of the home;
- Do practice regular fasting from the internet and other forms of media. Find time to enjoy other hobbies together: cook, talk, walk, play, read books, and pray;
- Do have open and frank discussions about the dangers of the internet;
- Don’t presume your kids will be safe without precautions put in place. It is very easy to access inappropriate content online – even by accident;
- Do implement parental controls for restrictions on what sites can be visited and for limiting the amount of time online (prevention is key). Parental restrictions are available for computers and for smart phones.