Are We Addicted Or Connected?

Friday night used to be our family movie and pizza night. But tonight all four of us are sitting in front of different computer screens. The boys are gaming with their Dad but they're all three in separate rooms. I am blogging on my laptop and battling an uneasy sense that we're slowly becoming a family of Internet addicts. What do the experts say about letting our kids spend time in cyberspace?

In Young And Wired, an excellent article in the San Francisco Chronicle, Katherine Seligman asks, "How will the sheer amount of time spent plugged in affect our kids?" Is screen time all bad? Are there any positives? Is the human brain really wired to multi-task? How can we know if our child's (or our own) computer use has become an addiction? One of the therapists Seligman interviewed treats Internet addicts, and offers this warning:
...Parents should be concerned if the computer seems to be replacing family and friends, if it's the main source of emotional life or is disrupting school work. Increased tolerance -- needing to play for longer periods of time to be satisfied -- also might signify trouble, as does increased anxiety or moodiness when away from the computer. Sometimes ... students themselves say they feel out of control. They may have back aches or eye strain and stop taking care of themselves physically.
Hey, wait a minute. My back aches and my eyes are bothering me. I thought it was middle age, but maybe there's another explanation ...

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