29 October 2012

Social media can lead to internet addiction

Recent studies show that plenty of young women are also at risk of internet addiction, primarily due to social networking sites like Facebook.


The stereotype of an internet addict is a slightly nerdy young man or teenager, spending all his time in front of some kind of online role-playing game.

The reality is more diverse, with recent studies showing that plenty of young women are also at risk of internet addiction, primarily due to social networking sites like Facebook.

Just about all girls diagnosed with the addiction trace their problems to social networking sites, says Bernd Werner, from the German Foundation for Media and Online Addiction. "They're always thinking about what's going on right now in the network," he says. They use such sites to chat with others in their clique. "There's pressure from within the peer group."

The problem is that many parents have not yet tuned in to the addiction danger, warns Werner. They are more prone to sound the alarm when children - primarily boys - show signs of addiction. The signs parents would note for online addiction are the same for girls on social networking sites as for boys involved in online gaming.  "For one thing, there's a loss of control," says Werner. "I can no longer control how long I stay on the internet."

Change in tolerance levels

The second indicator is a change in tolerance levels. "I consciously tolerate the fact that my behaviour leads to stress with my parents or worsening marks at school." The most serious sign is when a girl starts to ignore friends, hobbies or basic hygiene. Statistically, internet addiction is more of a masculine problem.

One German study showed that 0.7% of people aged 25 to 64 had trouble breaking away from games or social networks. Taking into account the whole population, about 1.0% of men suffered from addiction, almost double the figure for women, at 0.4%, the federal appointee for addiction issues, Mechthild Dyckmans, reported. The job of monitoring a child's internet usage is made easier if the computer is not set up in their room.

"Instead, put it somewhere where parents often walk by," recommends Werner. It's also not a good idea to allow boys and girls to have their own smartphones too early, regardless of protestations that 'Everyone else has one.'"

Set computer usage time limits with your children. "And take a real interest in what your daughter is doing on Facebook," says Werner. Such topics can easily be discussed during family meals. What's important to remember is that comments like "I don't like that" are best avoided by parents when it's time to discuss the matter.

(Sapa, October 2012)

Read more: 

Internet addiction may be genetic

6 signs you're a Facebook addict


Get a quote


Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Live healthier

Make a change and get moving! »

The dangers of blood clots Fit people live longer Exercise is key to health in old age

How you can get moving

Fee like a useless lump of laziness just laying on the couch? Fear not, there's hope for you! Here's how you can get active.

Up for grabs! »

To vape or not to vape? Twisp's new range of e-cigs Discover your Twisp

Win one of the 3 new devices from Twisp!

Now you can stand a chance of winning one of the 3 new devices, as well as flavours and accessories worth R2000 each!