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Girls' Internet Problems "Often Ignored"

The stereotype of an Internet addict is a young man. Young women's problems are different, but very real, experts say.

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Internet dependence: it's not just for boys.
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By Valerie Tejeda

10/29/12

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Stats and sterotypes point the finger mostly at boys and young men when it comes to Internet addiction. But experts are warning that because of this, young women's web-dependence, which typically develops through social networking sites like Facebook, often slips under the radar. “[Young women] are always thinking about what's going on right now in the network,” says Bernd Werner of the German Foundation for Media and Online Addiction. “They use such sites to chat with others in their clique. There's pressure from within the peer group.” Werner thinks that many parents remain unaware of their daughters' online problems, believing incorrectly that this compulsion only affects boys. One recent German study indicated that 0.7 % of males aged 25-64 had trouble breaking away from social networking sites and games, compared with 0.4% of women. Despite that disparity, Werner suggests putting strict boundaries on your child’s computer use—regardless of gender—by limiting hours, placing computers in common areas rather than the bedroom, and not succumbing to pressure to give young children smartphones. “The signs parents would note for online addiction are the same for girls on social networking sites as for boys involved in online gaming,” he says. “For one thing, there's a loss of control. I can no longer control how long I stay on the internet.” Taking an interest in what your daughter is doing on Facebook is important, says Werner; red flags include when a girl begins to ignore personal hygiene, hobbies and friends.

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