I remember reading a news article once where a kid named Gary threatened his parents with a chopper because they refused to open the door to his computer room. The parents were only trying to stop their child’s online addiction, but obviously, it had an adverse effect instead.

While I do encourage children to utilise games, even video games to enrich their learning experience further, everything in life can become an addiction. It’s our job as a family to ensure the proper balance in our children’s lives until they are old enough to think for themselves. And it’s crucial to recognise the symptoms too. Symptoms of addiction could range from restlessness when not getting their ‘fix’, tardy behaviour at school, isolating themselves or even neglecting their health.

There are ways, however, to prevent such addiction from happening. Here’s how:

● Use parental control tools to control your child’s online access, such as a parental lock that limits the online apps your child could use. This includes both computer and mobile usage.

● Set a duration that your child could spend on online gaming.

● Place the computer in an area of the home where you could monitor your child’s online activities. If he’s on the phone, keep an eye on what he’s doing every hour or two. Keep your observations discreet so he cannot just switch to a different app when he notices you watching.

● Understand Internet addiction by researching its causes and effects so you could adequately inform your child about its consequences.

● Encourage your child to pursue other interests outside of online gaming, such as picking up a sport or learning a craft.

Ultimately, the best way to protect your child from being addicted is still building a healthy relationship with him. I feel that it’s always more effective to communicate with a child through understanding and compassion rather than taking an authoritative tone with him to make him afraid and anxious. Help your child understand why addiction to anything could cause long-term consequences down the line when he gets older. Help him practice values they could apply both online and offline to prevent such bad habits from happening.

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