Internet Addiction Help – Addressing the Family System

Internet addiction help is often a family matter.  Sometimes a family intervention is better than just treating the individual.  In family systems theory, individuals are best understood as a part of their family.  Families are thought of as systems of interconnected individuals, none of whom can be understood in isolation from the system.  It would make sense from a family system’s perspective to address the habits on an entire family as opposed to just one child when it comes to addressing internet gaming addiction treatment, cell phone or social media addiction treatment.

Below are some tips on implementing a family intervention to support less “screen time” use and more physical activity.  Not every suggestion is going to be useful for each family.  At the family workshop at Summerland Camps, we discuss a wide range of suggestions and exchange ideas on what might work best for each family.

To support a child that needs internet addiction help, we recommend the following:

1. Make physical changes to your house.

In most homes, the center of the living room is the TV.  Think about your living room now.  Does every chair in the house point towards the TV?  Generally, the living room is the busiest and largest room in the house.  What message are we sending to our kids by pointing our sofas, love seats, and chairs all towards the TV?

Instead, try re-arranging your furniture in a circular pattern around a coffee table.  If you were setting your living room up to have a conversation or play a board game, what would it look like?

Instead of pointing all chairs towards the TV, point the chairs towards each other.  Make the seating so that you have to turn to the side to watch TV.  We can create additional structure just by changing the layout of our furniture.

2. Stop using the exercise equipment as a clothes hanger.

Many of us have purchased a treadmill or elliptical machine.  We start off with good intentions, then after a few months, the equipment starts to collect dust and gets pushed into a corner.  Later it becomes a place to throw your jacket on.

Along with suggestion #1 above, how about relocating that exercise equipment back to the center of the living room.  Let’s change our family rules to say the remote lives on the treadmill, not on the coffee table (or in between the couch cushions.)  Also, we can add an additional rule- the person actively moving on the treadmill gets to choose the TV channel.

internet addiction help

Keeping regularly planned activity is a great way to support a child that needs internet addiction help.

3. The no-device rule at dinner.

Dinner should be a time for the family to reconnect and talk about their day.  Create a rule that devices are not allowed at dinner.  To avoid temptation, don’t even bring them to the table.  While it might seem difficult at first, after a few dinners it will become a familiar routine.

4. Create a “screen-free” zone in your house.

A child that needs internet addiction help should have a “safe zone” set up in their house.  Set a room aside that is screen free- no TV’s, no computers, and no devices are allowed to be carried in the room which is switched on.

This could be a study, an office, or any other room in the house you chose.  This room could be filled with board games, books, puzzles, photo albums, and other family keepsakes.

5. Remove the TV from your child’s room.

According to a study in the Journal of Obesity, children with a TV in their bedroom are more likely to be obese.  Another study in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine found that the household media environment is significantly associated with students’ performance on the standardized tests. Researchers looked at students who had televisions in their bedrooms.  Data was gathered from students and their parents from 6 northern California public elementary schools.  It was found that having a bedroom television set was significantly and negatively associated with students’ test scores, while home computer access and use were positively associated with the scores.

6. Take Up a Family Sport or Hobby

Families can best support a child that needs internet addiction help by joining a family league at the local YMCA, community center, or house of worship.   Planning and training for a family 5K fun run might be another way to change up the weekly routine to involve more physical activity and less idle time playing games or browsing the internet.  At Summerland Camps, we suggest having friendly step competitions with a pedometer between family members.

Parents can also help a child that needs internet addiction help by role modeling with their own behaviors.  How likely will a child manage their screen time if their parent’s  binge watches Netflix for 10 hours straight on the weekends?  Incorporating physical activity into your weekend is one way to break up screen watching habits.