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Is your Teen Addicted To The Computer?

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 16 Dec 2012 | comments*Discuss
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Computers, especially those with an Internet connection, have become a part of modern life. Every day teens use them to do homework, research, keep in touch with friends, listen to music, watch television programmes and movies and generally entertain themselves. But when is enough enough? How do you know if your teen has a healthy interest in electronics or has become addicted to the computer? Continue reading for some clues to help you determine if your teen’s computer use has become addictive.


One of the first things to think about in relation to a teen’s computer use is how much time (s)he spends on the computer each day. This will obviously vary per person, but in general if a teen is spending more than an hour or two on the computer then it is likely that (s)he is missing out on other parts of life. Also think about the time of day that a teen is on the computer. If a teen comes home from school and heads to the computer to do homework this is one thing, but if a teen waits until the family has gone to bed to begin his or her computer use then it is quite another.


Do you know why your teen is using the computer? If you ask your teen, will (s)he tell you? These are two questions that any parent should be asking in regards to teen computer use. As a general rule of thumb, teens who can immediately and articulately describe why they use the computer usually do have a reason to be on them. However, teens who are vague or secretive about their computer use may have no reason to be on the computer other than because they are addicted or fear living their life away from the machine.

Other Activities

In addition to using the computer, can you think of activities that your teen enjoys and engages in regularly? If so, then it is likely that your teen has a fairly balanced life. If not, then it is likely that your teen is sacrificing or otherwise missing out on a well rounded life for the sake of spending time on the computer. Though extra computer use may be acceptable at certain times (for example, during school holidays), in general it should not take up so much time that it precludes a teen from engaging in other activities.


Electronic communication has become a way of life for teens, from sending text messages to instant messaging to sending emails. However, there is a difference between electronic communication that complements face-to-face communication and electronic communication that is used instead of face-to-face communication. Talk to your teen about his or her friends. Are they available in real life or do you have a sneaking suspicion that your teen has only online friends? Do you think your teen is following proper Internet safety methods or do you fear that (s)he may be disclosing sensitive information to these new friends? Does your teen ever meet his or her friends off line? Is this a common occurrence? The more you ponder your teen’s friendships the more you may realise about his or her computer use.

In general, teens love technology and a computer has become a fact of life for these youngsters. If you fear that your teen has become addicted to the computer, think about the time (s)he spends on it, the purpose for which (s)he logs on, if (s)he engages in other activities and who (s)he counts as friends. These variables usually give parents a well-rounded picture of a teen’s computer use and enough information to decide if their teen seems to be addicted to the computer.

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Internet addiction is being treated in countries like Korea, although some contend that it’s not really an addiction. However, as it takes up more and more in the lives of teenagers (and adults) it does seem to be a mental, if not physical addiction, one that can require treatment in extreme cases.
Tina - 3-Oct-12 @ 10:58 AM
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