Concerns and Benefits Surrounding Teens’ Internet Use Explored in New Study

A recent survey of American parents reveals a significant worry about their teenagers’ internet use. The study, involving about 1,000 moms and dads, illustrates concerns around cyberbullying, exposure to harmful content, and the potential for addiction due to excessive internet use among adolescents.

The researchers found that more than 22% of parents were apprehensive that their children might be becoming dependent on the internet. What’s striking is that twice as many parents were worried about internet addiction compared to concerns about addiction to substances like drugs or alcohol.

Dr. Giovanni Salum, a program director for the Child Mind Institute, highlighted a growing perception that mental health disorders are on the rise, with internet and social media usage potentially contributing to this trend.

The survey showcased a dual sentiment among parents. While nearly two-thirds were worried about the exposure to harmful internet content and online bullying, about half saw an improvement in the closeness among immediate family members due to internet usage.

Despite acknowledging the benefits of internet use, researchers cautioned that the constant allure of the internet to the brain’s reward system could potentially lead to addiction. This becomes a concern when internet use interferes with relationships and academic pursuits.

In an effort to manage screen time and healthy alternatives, over 80% of parents reported feeling capable of discussing internet use with their children, believing they could use the internet responsibly.

The study highlighted that the internet use score among kids was associated with parenting styles. Inconsistent discipline and the perception of the co-parent played a role in influencing a child’s internet addiction score.

Additionally, experts emphasized the need for further investment in research to better comprehend the benefits and detriments associated with internet usage among adolescents. This includes exploring the influence of parenting styles and parents’ own internet habits on their children’s online behavior.

Dr. Mitchell Prinstein, the American Psychological Association’s chief science officer, recommended active monitoring of kids’ online activities through conversations rather than mere observation. He suggested that parents inquire about their children’s internet activities and encourage quality online interactions.

In essence, the study underlines the necessity for understanding and navigating the complexities of adolescent internet use while advocating for responsible internet practices and robust parental engagement.

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