Issues concerning the Internet and behavior issues in children and teenagers have proliferated in the media for more than a decade. The violent acts perpetrated at Columbine High School first brought the issue to light. When the behavior of children or teens takes an unexpected turn, parents and caregivers look for an explanation. Internet use is frequently cited as the cause, but the research does not necessarily support this assumption.
An Unexpected Place of Belonging
Today, kids use the Internet for two primary reasons: social connection and schoolwork. The online world serves another, more unexpected need for some young people, however, as a social sanctuary of sorts. The social structure of teens celebrates the norm, but is much less kind to kids who are different. Whether you call them geeks, nerds or whatever label today’s lexicon uses, individualism is more difficult now than ever. The Internet provides a safe space for kids who are different to connect to others battling to fit in. These teens share struggles with like-minded peers around the world, post artwork or writings and come to realize they aren’t alone.
Kids, Teens and Internet-Related Problems
Sharing too much on social media without realizing the permanence of info posted online can be a problem. So too is spending so much time online that health, schoolwork and live social interactions suffer. Internet addiction is real, but it affects surprisingly more adults than kids. Experts recommend cultivating an open and honest relationship with kids about their Internet use and teaching them responsible behavior rather than obsessively monitoring their online lives. In this way, children and teens learn to take responsibility for their actions and to make good decisions on their own.
When the Internet Helps Improve Behavior
Although many adults assume that the Internet’s inevitable influence on teen behavior is negative, the Internet can be used to create positive and beneficial behavioral changes. Governmental and nonprofit entities have created several innovative initiatives to help improve the lives of kids and teens. For example, TUNE (tunemylife.org) is an interactive wellness program that helps teenagers make healthy choices and improve their lives through music. PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports) is an educational support system being implemented across the country for the purpose of creating positive school environments. By teaching kids positive social behavior skills, PBIS provides a level of support that allows all students to achieve success on social, academic and emotional levels.
Despite its many benefits, some kids and teens may develop behavioral problems related to Internet use. Havenwood Academy offers a variety of proactive therapeutic programs designed to help girls and young women recover from emotional and behavioral problems, including addiction. If you have concerns about the Internet and behavior issues with your daughter, contact Havenwood today for more information.