“The Internet brings out impulsivity problems more than anything else,” said lead author Ryan Martin, an associate professor of human development and psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.
Not the normal topic I post about, but I see such horrible impulsivity in kids these days. I spent the weekend with four adolescents who are in a locked psychiatric facility based almost entirely on their inability to stop and think before they act. While there is no clear causal link between the internet and a lack of impulse control, research has shown a definite link between internet addiction and ADHD symptoms (Yoo, Cho, Ha, Yune, Kim, Hwang, Lyoo, 2004). Greater amounts of computer gaming, lower social competence, and greater impulsivity have been shown to be risk factors for depression, anxiety, social phobias, and lower school performance (Gentile, Choo, Liau, Sim, Li, Fung, & Khoo, 2011).
In Navigating the internet safely: Recommendations for residential programs targeting at-risk adolescents, Pridgen writes:
The internet has altered the landscape of human interaction in a way that may accentuate deficits in the capacity for self-sustaining, reciprocal peer relationships. Adolescents suffering from emotional and behavioral disorders may be especially prone to this influence, as evidenced by our observation of the growing clinical trend of adolescents admitted to inpatient and residential psychiatric units who present with a history of risky cyber-behaviors (2010).
So while the internet may not be causing the problem, it may be exacerbating problems that already exist.
So, why am I writing about this on a Parenting Blog? Well, I came across some interesting research. In a study on Impulsivity and inhibitory control, Schachar & Logan found that the development of inhibitory control seems to stop ant around second grade. If we as parents and educators are not attentive to teaching our young children self control at an early age, we may not get the chance to catch them up. This makes the work I do with adolescents very challenging, but it speaks to the critical nature of engaged parents. I’ve used the Stop and Think program with school kids and with my own child. I highly recommend it to anyone who is struggling with a young child with impulsivity and frankly anyone who works with or has a young child.
Gentile, D. A., Choo, H., Liau, A., Sim, T., Li, D., Fung, D., & Khoo, A. (2011). Pathological video game use among youths: A two-year longitudinal study.Pediatrics, 127(2), e319-e329. doi: 10.1542/peds.2010-1353
Pridgen, B. (2010). Navigating the internet safely: Recommendations for residential programs targeting at-risk adolescents. Harvard Review of Psychiatry,18(2), 131-138. doi: 10.3109/10673221003684000
Schachar, R., & Logan, G. D. (1990). Impulsivity and inhibitory control in normal development and childhood psychopathology. Developmental Psychology,26(5), 710-720. doi: 10.1037/0012-16126.96.36.1990
Yoo, H. J., Cho, S. C., Ha, J., Yune, S. K., Kim, S. J., Hwang, J., . . . Lyoo, I. K. (2004). Attention deficit hyperactivity symptoms and internet addiction.Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences, 58(5), 487-494. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1819.2004.01290.x