Worried that your kids are addicted to screens?
You are not alone! Vast numbers of parents, teachers and health professionals are concerned about how technology use is affecting kids social skills, motivation, attention, emotional regulation, and neurological functioning. Given the easy access to multiple modes of media (TV, iPads, computers, phones, etc.), electronics have become the “go to” in quiet moments. Screen time has also become the primary source of information and entertainment for children.
Today’s young people and children have become the ‘crash test dummies’ for technology obsession. Previous generations have not had access to the 24/7, always on, technology that is available today. Hence there there is no longitudinal data available about the effects of this technology. We are starting to see increasing information about posture, eyesight and obesity problems related to technology use, but there are many more problems emerging. Data from the last ten years however, does show worrying trends. Knowledge is power, and this site will inform you of the effects of screen addiction, enabling you to make informed decisions about your children’s use of devices.
Are you looking for answers?
Every family is different, as are all young people and children. There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution to breaking an addiction to devices. Depending on the age of your child and their level of overuse/addiction, different strategies are required. A good start is to do a family audit of technology usage for each member of the family. Once you have completed this you will be better placed to implement some rules and strategies.
When looking for answers to your child or young person’s use of devices, look at your usage also. Do you constantly have your phone in your hand? Do you fall into the vortex of technology when you go online to do one task, and get distracted by social media, games or online shopping? Children will model your behaviours and it is difficult to impose technology limitations if you are constantly ‘on line’. Also while on devices you are not present for your children. The dangers of ‘distracted parenting’ are real.
Invaluable Resources for children addicted to screens
Once you have identified that your child does have a problem with technology, and read about some of the strategies you can use to address this problem, you will find a great selection of resources you can use to assist you here. These resources are specifically aimed at different age groups and ability levels. All are designed to appeal to children’s natural curiosity and foster a love of learning. It is far easier to modify children’s online behaviours when they are young, so adopting some of these resources early is wise.
There are also many books that offer in-depth research and advice on screen addiction, and are a valuable resource to have available.
You will also find links to intervention programs specifically targeted to teens and young adults that need concentrated programs to enable digital-detox. These programs are offered in Australia and the U.S. and have been shown to have success with many addicted young people.
See how other families are managing screen addiction
You are not alone in your worry and frustration over your children’s use of technology. Most parents I speak to express the same concerns – their children are addicted to screens. Be it computers, iPads, phones or TV, kids are drawn into these devices. For this reason I have included case studies from two families, and will be adding more in the weeks to come. There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution to this problem, and so it’s useful to see what other parents are doing.
For some families, no screens at all is the best solution. In my experience though, most schools now set homework that includes an online element, whether it be accessing a school portal or researching.Therefore this solution is probably not for everyone.
Other families agree on family contracts (see Family Tech Audit) to limit screen time. This works well for some families, as long as all members abide by the conditions set in place.
If your older child has serious problems that are technology related, you may want to consider an intervention.
Whatever way you choose to address the technology problem, we’d love to hear about it. Please contact us so that we may share your story with other parents looking for answers.