Smartphone and Internet Addiction Making Teens ‘Hikikomori’ – How to Prevent This Psychological Disorder

Hikikomori is a psychological condition in which people cut them off from society and get locked in houses for months or longer. Previously, the condition was common in Japanese youngsters but the widespread adoption of smartphones and the internet has made Hikikomori a common trait the world over. Kids of the digital age prefer staying in their bedrooms in front of screens rather than getting involved in outdoor activities. While they have hundreds of friends and followers on social media, they have a few or no companion in real life. This article discusses how parents can prevent kids from being Hikikomori and getting involved in other psychological problems.

How to Detect a Hikikomori

It is not difficult to detect a Hikikomori in your children. You need to be watchful on how they spend the whole day. Do they spend most of the day or the whole day staying at home? Do they feel reluctant talking to guests or attending social gatherings? Do they have a few or no friends? Are they gradually becoming shy, insecure and unhappy? Do they isolate themselves in their bedrooms? If your answer is ‘yes’, your kid is a Hikikomori of the modern age.

Smartphone and Internet Addiction in Teens

The internet contains heaps of information and engaging stuff. If we particularly discuss YouTube, it holds innumerable videos that keep the viewer stick to the site. Similarly, there are social media sites like Facebook and Instagram that allow communicating with online buddies without interruption. Not just kids but the adults find it hard to put down their smartphones because it provides them with their favorite stuff. It makes them addicted to mobile phones and the internet. They prefer sticking to their phones rather than going outside and actively participating in social situations. This addiction puts a severe negative impact on their mental, psychological and physical health as well. They are likely to suffer from depression, low self-esteem, poor social skills and isolation.

How to Prevent Kids from Being Hikikomori or Internet Addict

The first and foremost step to protect teens from becoming obsessed with mobile phones and the internet is limiting their screen time. Parents can play a key role in keeping their kids from suffering from Hikikomori and similar psychological conditions. Do not allow kids to dedicate their attention and time to the undue use of smartphones and digital devices. Encourage them to get involved in physical and tech-free outdoor activities. Given are a few practices that can help your kids to get rid of smartphone addiction.

Plan Outdoor Activities

If your kid is giving more time to his smartphone, you are responsible for his actions to some extent. The families that do not plan physical and outdoor activities are more likely to have isolated children having poor social and behavioral skills. Parents are responsible to provide kids with entertaining stuff. It is not necessary to plan costly trips every week. You can enjoy family time having a hot coffee at night or going for a walk in a nearby park. There are many affordable ways to spend an amusing time with your kids. Also, make sure that you avoid the use of smartphones and the internet during this family time. If you have planned a road trip try leaving your digital devices at home, so you could help your kids learn that life is not impossible without cell phones. It would help them learn to enjoy life without the usage of digital devices.

Set Digital Rules

Rules can be the least favorite thing for children. However, they can help a lot in training them and making them embrace healthy practices. Compile a list of rules regarding the use of digital devices including mobile phones, computers and tablets. These rules would provide great support in eliminating the tech addiction of children. Here are some of the most useful digital rules.

  • Do not use mobile phones and other digital devices after a specific time of the day.
  • Do not use digital devices during family time.
  • Do not bring mobile phones to the dining tables.
  • Do not use mobile phones during driving.
  • Do not go online late night.
  • Do not allow kids to use adult-oriented mobile apps including social networking and gaming apps.
  • Do not allow posting personal information on social media and online platforms.
  • Immediately inform parents about any negative experience online such as bullying.
  • Do not share passwords with anyone.

These are a few examples of rules to prevent kids from irresponsible use of digital devices. You can take help from the internet to compile a list of more useful digital rules. Once you complete your list, make sure it is followed by the whole family inside and outside the home. These rules should not be only for children. When kids would see elders adopting opposite practices, they would not follow rules heartedly. You can encourage kids to follow the digital rules by offering rewards. If they break any rule you can take their privileges back rather than punishing them.

Demonstrate Responsible Digital Behavior

Kids do what they find others doing. Rather than listening to and following parents’ instructions they do what their parents and other family members do. For example, if they find their father using the mobile phone and responding to business emails on the dining table, they would not feel reluctant scrolling social media newsfeed while dining. Demonstrate the behavior you want your kids to embrace. Adopt healthy practices so your kids could learn something good from their elders.

Set Parental Controls

If you are noticing a sudden change in your kid’s behavior, you need to know the reason for this change. There are possibilities that your kid is experiencing bullying if his mood gets spoiled after reading a text or using a mobile phone. If your kid has started showing any sign of Hikikomori, you are responsible to find out what is the reason behind. Make use of the TheOneSpy parental control app to keep a secret eye on your kids’ online and offline activities. The app would let you know if your kid is having a negative experience that is making him unsocial and isolated. Provide needed support to your Hikikomori kid to bring him back to life.

The Bottom Line

The excessive use of mobile phones and internet addiction can make your kid Hikikomori. Revamp your lifestyle; implement a few rules and monitor your kids’ digital behavior to help them enjoy life to the full extent.

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