Gone where the days where most children would go out and play with other kids. More and more children would rather stay at home because they are glued to their phones, tablets, games, computers or whatever gadgets that they have. More often than not, it’s the parents themselves who introduced the world of gadgets to their children.
In this fast-paced world where parents are tired and busy trying to make a living; they have discovered that the fastest and most convenient way to make their children behave and stay still is to give them a gadget. Gadgets had become the modern-day pacifier. However, this practice is beginning to backfire. While technology is great tool to help develop your child’s cognitive and motor skills; it can also lead to addiction.
Child gadget addiction is the use or abuse of gadgets by children and teenagers to the point that it starts to negatively influence their health, growth, relationships and life in general.
Harmful effects of Gadget Addiction:
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). It is a mental disorder that makes them unable to focus and control their impulses.
- Impaired Physical and Cognitive Growth. Physical and psychosocial development is hindered or weakened.
- Myopia. Excessive exposure to electronic screens lead to nearsightedness.
- Poor Sleep and Obesity. A study done by the Univeristy of Alberta directly linked electronic devices to poor sleep and obesity among children and teens.
- Social Disconnection. The child becomes detached with other people and has a hard time building relationship with others.
- Speech or language delay. Children learn speech by communicating with other people.
Signs that your Child is Suffering from Gadget Addiction:
- Your child is no longer interested in any other activities or toys
- It is difficult to have a normal conversation with them. They are too engrossed with their gadgets that they no longer listen to what you are saying.
- They become irritable or distressed when you remove their gadgets from them. Some will even throw a tantrum.
- They start lying about using their gadgets or you see them hiding their gadgets once they see you.
- All they talk about is the game or going online.
- They keep on checking their phones or gadgets.
- Their agitation disappears once they are back online or have their gadgets back.
If you have noticed your child displaying the above-mentioned behaviours, then it is time for you to do a digital detox. A digital detox is a period of time wherein a person refrains from using gadgets. The time will then be used for other activities or interaction with other people to lessen if not totally eradicate attachment to gadgets.
What you can do to Address Gadget Addiction:
- Spend quality time with your children. Raising kids is not just about providing for their material needs. It is also about bonding, communicating and instilling values to your children.
- Make your meal-time gadget-free. What better time to talk communicate with one another than during meal time. Meal time is the only common time for family members to sit together and have an open communication with one another.
- Be a storyteller. Kids love listening to stories. Be creative. Be enthusiastic. Tell stories that are fun and has values and lessons for your children. Read a book to them ideally before going to bed.
- Monitor your child’s internet activity and social media accounts. The internet can be an unsafe place for children. Protect your child by monitoring their internet use.
- Make sure your kids have other hobbies or interests. Register your child in activities such as music, sports, or arts. Encourage them to join school clubs or other organizations or anything that will take their time off the screen.
- Don’t put electronics on child’s bedroom. The bedroom is for sleeping. Avoid putting television, game consoles or any electronics inside your child’s bedroom. This will prevent them from being tempted to stay up late at night with their gadgets.
- Create a family charging station. Assign a place where your gadget will be put when charging or when not in use. This way, you will be able to monitor who is still using their gadget especially at night.
- Set a no gadget rule in front of guests. If there are guests in the house or if you are outside in a gathering or party, create a rule that they are not supposed to use their gadgets. In this way, they will be forced to mingle and communicate with the guests or other people.
- Establish a free time or gadget time. Children are creatures of habits. Set a specific time for them to use their gadget. Be consistent with your rule. Don’t be lenient and never start making exceptions.
- Set an example. Don’t expect your kids to follow if you yourself is addicted to gadgets. Send a strong message by living by example.