Parents and teachers have been left in a quandary as the onslaught of Internet games and social networking sites are bringing out a rebellious streak in many children.

“Why are you controlling my life?” – is the question often thrown back by children to their parents or teachers when they are confronted with their obsession with the Internet.

Teenagers playing online games at a cyber cafe in Kelana Jaya, a common scenario at almost any cyber cafe.

Norton, an Internet security company, produced a family report in 2010 which stated that Malaysian children spent an average of 64 hours online every month.

National Union of the Teaching Profession secretary general Lok Yim Pheng described the students’ obsession with the Internet as a silent killer which was “killing off” the interest of students in class.

There had been reported cases of students falling asleep in class after a whole night of playing Internet games and on-line chatting.

Lok had been ringing the alarm bells over this issue for the last five years.

She said there were also students who starved themselves during recess time because they wanted to save up for trips to cyber cafes.

“There have also been cases where stealing is involved,” she said.

Public complaints go-to man, Datuk Michael Chong said many parents had come crying to him saying they were at a loss over what to do.

“Their children spend countless hours on the Internet – with some cases involving primary school students surfing pornographic sites,” said the head of the MCA Public Service and Complaints Department.

Psychologist Dr Goh Chee Leong said the Internet was enticing because it was “very engaging and stimulating.”

“This problem is more prevalent in the middle and higher class families because they can afford to buy computers,” said the vice-president of HELP University College.

Mary (not her real name), an ex-addict, said that at the height of her obsession with online games, she only slept once every two days.

“I was 16 then. I was having teenage angst and like my peers, I needed a world where I could be in control and I could win,” said the undergraduate.

Luckily, she grew out from the phase when she was 19. Her bad grades were a nasty wake-up call, said the 21-year-old.

Father of three and marketing manager Simon Lee worries that his children will neglect their studies if they spend too much time on the computer.

But he could soon have a solution.

Software engineer Wayne Koong has invented a programme which slows down Internet programmes tremendously, to make the viewers get impatient and lose interest.

To know more about it, you have to log on and go to www.internetoveruse.com.