The number of Facebook users is estimated to be over 800,000,000, making it the number one social networking site. Despite its popularity, Facebook is not without disturbing consequences. Cases of Facebook addiction are surging.
Analyst guessed that 1 in 8 Americans is addicted to the internet, and the numbers are rising quickly, especially among young people. Technology is highly addictive because feedback is instantaneous. Children are growing up with so much internet exposure to a point where they feel uncomfortable without it.
Addiction to Facebook hinders real relationships. It affects the ability to experience with others, since interpersonal relationships require some vulnerability and a little bit of work in order to make secure attachments. Facebook is not only addictive but it also puts children at the risk of meeting strangers or online predators. Children and adults too, can misuse Facebook, just like drugs, alcohol and other addictive or compulsive behavior, as a coping skill whenever they feel stressed or anxious. Addiction is the disease of the brains. It causes problems with school, and relationships.
Facebook may affect the child’s attention span. Exposing young brain to action and reaction, of instant screen images, may accustom the brain to operate over such timescales. Besides this, it makes the child less empathic because the child is not aware of how people are really feeling and the child could become almost autistic.
To tell if your child is addicted to the Facebook, look for the following signs – first, time spent on Facebook; is it too much? Secondly, does the usage of Facebook interfere with the child’s normal activities; for example, getting ready for school or attending sports practices? Thirdly, does the child go to bed on time? And does the child appear exhausted in the morning? Fourthly, does the child focus enough to finish the homework assignment without signing in to Facebook? Fifthly, does the child become irritated whenever you try to cut down the time he spends on Facebook? And lastly, has your child lost interest in things that used to excite him; for example, playing outside or hanging out with friends?
Prevention is better than cure. To stop the child from getting addicted to Facebook is very important to limit the time the child spends online. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests two hours should be the limit. Other pundit feels one hour is enough. If parents spend too much time on Facebook when children are at home, instead of focusing on family, then it affects the child. Therefore, setting the right kind of culture in the home, indicating proper time management and scheduling is crucial in preventing Facebook addiction.
For an addicted child, an incremental approach should be adopted to help the child cut back time he spends on Facebook. A point system or small rewards should be given if the child shows positive behavior like signing out when it is time to do homework or other responsibilities. And as the child is trying to recover from his addiction to Facebook, take time to understand what he is experiencing.