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Christian Service News

Issue 65 (October 2009)

2009 Teenagers' Internet Use Survey:
Cure Internet Addiction by Tackling Underlying Problems

Our Online New Page Project has been providing counseling services to youth Internet addicts and their families since 2005 in response to the severeness of teenagers' Internet addiction. The project, funded by the Community Chest, conducted a survey on Primary Five to Form Five students during January to March this year. A total of 1,192 questionnaires were returned. The survey indicated the seriousness of teenagers' Internet addiction.

In the survey, 15.9% respondents were defined as 'Internet Addicts.' This was 10.5% higher compared with our survey in 2005. Besides, nearly 90% of them stated that they experienced flashbacks of pictures from the Internet after being offline. In terms of personal traits, it was found that these addicts had a lower sense of success, life satisfaction, interpersonal and family relationships than the non-addicts. Moreover, there was remarkable difference in terms of time-use and purposes of computer use between the addicts and nonaddicts. The addicts averagely spent much more time -- 6.34 hours on the computer per day on weekends while the non-addicts only 4.60 hours. The addicts mainly spent their time on online games whereas the non-addicts used computer mainly for e-mailing and doing homework and reports.

The good news is that from our continuous service evaluation since 2006, among 219 teenage service recipients, 73% and 70% of them were found to use less time on the computer and have a lower severity of Internet addiction respectively. The successful factors for teenagers to recover from Internet addiction are 'nurturance of new hobbies,' 'lifestyle modification,' 'improvement of parentchild communication' and 'support from family members.'

We find that just prohibiting teenagers to use the computer is not an effective way to handle the problem of Internet addiction. This only enlarges the communication gap between parents and children and finally leads to family conflicts. Hence, we deem 'Family Education' as a critical factor and an effective way in raising teenagers' life satisfaction and establishing good parent-child relationship to handle Internet addiction. Apart from teaching students and parents IT knowledge, we suggest elements of 'Family Education' be added to facilitate mutual understanding between children and parents in the issues of computer use. This will ease parents' worries and prevent family conflicts.

Last but not least, teenagers also need to be more enthusiastic about participating in different kinds of extra-curricular activities in order to nurture their interest and build up their sense of satisfaction in daily lives rather than through the virtual world.

We believe that Internet addiction could be cured with a clear understanding of the underlying problems. Parents who want to have more information on tackling children's Internet addiction behavior are welcome to contact our social workers by dialing 2561-0363.

Teenagers' Internet Use Survey

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