Why Parents Need To Talk to Their Teens About Internet Addiction

by Polaris Teen Center | Apr 21, 2017 | Mental Health, Parenting Tips, Resources

teen internet addiction

The negative effects internet use has on teen mental health is being researched more and more every day. Talking with your teen can help to determine whether or not the internet has a negative impact on their life.

Today, the internet and technology are constantly evolving to enhance our lives. In turn, it is becoming an increasingly larger aspect of human experience. Teens today have a much more natural learning curve in figuring out computers. Because of this, they can easily utilize their devices for tasks and entertainment. While technology can be a great tool in a multitude of ways, it can be at a cost for some.

There are growing statistics pointing towards instances where individuals are addicted to the internet. What is worse is that this new phenomenon is especially biased towards teens. This is because their brains are still in the midst of development. It can be easy to confuse typical adolescent behavior with an emerging personality disorder. It’s important to identify the specific signs of internet addiction to determine if there is something more going on.


Internet addiction can mirror the symptoms of many other common addictions. If you notice your teen exhibiting signs like these, you may have a cause for concern.

  • Obsession (always thinking about being online)
  • Irritability when offline or frustration when asked to get offline
  • Abandoning obligations or friends to be online
  • A gradual increase in online session
  • Sacrificing a large amount of sleep to be online longer
  • Falling grades as a result of distraction while working on the computer
  • Dishonesty about time spent online

While teens are growing and going through different phases, they will likely lose interest in certain hobbies. If you see that the internet has had a noticeable effect on your teen’s life, it could be time to take action. In extreme cases, the addiction to being on the internet can be very debilitating and create a large problem in someone’s life. However, you should be sure that you aren’t confusing natural stages of puberty with irregular behavior. There is the possibility that an adolescent cannot regulate their own self-control because they don’t yet know how. Talking with them about these potential issues can open their eyes to the problem and give them the tools to be mindful in their habits.


Obviously the internet can be necessary for completing different tasks throughout the day. Everyone’s typical amount of usage should be considered. Starting a conversation with your teen is a must. Explaining the newfound negative effects of obsessive internet use can help your teen be more mindful in how much time they spend online. Avoid getting angry or restricting their privileges altogether, as this can easily cause teens to act out negatively. If your teen has a tendency to be internet-dependent, taking away their vice can lead to an irrational reaction. Letting them know your thoughts in a relaxed environment is much more effective in helping them to understand the problem.

There simply is not enough research that has been done on how negatively the internet effects people, and it truly needs to be talked about more. It is not anyone’s fault if they have an irregular predisposition towards spending too much time online. Everyone is different, and some individuals may enjoy having an online presence more than others. As a parent you should reach out to your teen to see if internet addiction is a potential issue that needs to be addressed. Instilling a sense of personal regulation within your teen can be very effective for the majority of teens who don’t have a significant internet addiction.

Severe cases of addiction might need to consider a more intensive course of action such as cognitive behavioral therapy so that they can get back on track and lead more positive lifestyle. For all that the internet provides, we as a society still have much to learn about its long term costs. Most don’t feel a noticeable effect of the internet on their life, but others might need a little more help in preventing the internet from consuming their existence. If you or your child suffers from internet addiction or other compulsive behaviors, you may want to consider residential treatment. To get in touch with our staff, or to learn more about Polaris teen treatment center, contact us at (844) 836-0222.

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Polaris Teen Center is a residential treatment facility for teens and adolescents suffering from severe mental health disorders. Our highly accredited facility is fully licensed and certified in Trauma Informed Care and is a part of the Behavioral Health Association of Providers (formerly AATA).