Technology Addiction - It Can Take Over Your Kid's Life

Technology became an essential part of our life, and the younger the person, the more so. Social networks are much more important for teenagers than they are for us. Kids are used to finding any information on the web, to entertaining themselves by the means of game applications. We definitely cannot deny them a privilege of cyber citizenship, yet the problem of excessive time in front of screens is now greater than ever – some twenty years ago, parents were concerned about children staying glued to their desktops and never going outside. Kids nowadays go outside, all right. However, the screen goes along. Wherever they go, whatever they do – their electronic toys accompany them. At this point, many parents find themselves asking the same question: "How much is too much?"

Image Credit: Jana Rooheart

No boundaries, no limits

One of the most compelling traits of the mobile technology is that it erases boundaries. You can build a lifelong friendship with a person from a distant country; you can watch live cameras from all over the world. Nothing can part you from your friends – you can stay in touch 24/7. Yet should you?

The truth is, in the majority of homes there are no defined rules about technology. Children and teenagers have unrestricted access to family devices and have their personal gadgets always available. When the parents realize that their child is probably spending too much time plugged-in, it's already too late – the kid percepts any kind of restriction as a violation of their freedom, and massive conflict is unavertable.

How do you tell, that your child is growing dependent on the technology? Here are some telltale signs.

Image Credit: Jana Rooheart

Over-excitement about technology

If your kid can literally speak of nothing else then their cyber life, new games and memes, beware. It's the first sign that they don't find real life as interesting and exciting as the web. It is a slippery slope, and in extreme cases of addiction, teenagers even say that the real world is fake, and the internet is a true reality.

Indifference to any other activity

If you cannot tempt your child to go to the movies or playing outside and they'd rather stay at home, or better still, they go, but keep staring at the screen and pay no attentions to whatever happens around them – it may be the sign of addiction. The child becomes more and more reluctant about anything other than engagement with technology.

Image Credit: Jana Rooheart

Phantom vibration syndrome

If you child constantly checks their phone, believes they heard it ringing when in fact it wasn't and anticipates new messages, it's a sign of over-involvement in their cell phone, that can lead to further complications.

Being secretive and lying

Children mostly lie about the time they spend online. They are very perceptive; they can tell when you disapprove, even if you do not say it out loud or set any rules. If you notice, that you kid tries to conceal the actual amount of time they spend online, take their device in bed, switches it off the moment you come into the room, and becomes defensive with no particular reason – it's high time you talk about it frankly.

Fatigue, sleep problems

Sleep problems are often a sign that your child (or you yourself, for that matter) spends too much time in front of screens – and not necessarily at night. Even without using mobile devices after one's bedtime, one may experience insomnia after a day spent staring at the screen.

Image Credit: Jana Rooheart

Worsened academic performance

The lack of offline time may not be the only cause of As turning to Ds, however, excessive time with gadgets, causes hyperarousal of the brain, which leads to distractibility and lack of concentration. In other words, your child is overexcited and cannot focus on studying.

Withdrawal symptoms

If your child feels depressed and anxious when they can't get online, experiences mood swings and becomes very sensitive when you express any concerns about their use of technology, you probably should take some steps.

Harm done

Much like any other addiction, the obsession with technology can take over one's life, leaving no place for other joys. However, there are some more specific hazards related exclusively to gadgets.

Educators believe that technology makes children less imaginative: as result, they cannot deal with boredom and entertain themselves without the help of electronic devices

Over-involvement with technology at the early stage of child's development affects emotional intelligence (children are less sympathetic, they cannot tell one emotion from another)

Pediatricians say that more time with devices is connected to lower psychological ability.

Oversharing, cyberbullying, and sexting are risks your child may face while being online.

Image Credit: Jana Rooheart

Dealing with the problem

What can parents do to prevent all these things from happening? How do you get your kid to disconnect? The first rule of digital detox is establishing rules and limits. You cannot ban technology altogether. Even if it were possible, it would only turn technology into a forbidden fruit – ever more compelling and irresistible. Yet restrictions are compulsory. Most experts agree on two hours a day tops. Discuss it with your kids, highlight the importance of such measures for their wellbeing, otherwise, they may see it as you taking it out on them for their undesirable behavior. You may agree on uninstalling some of the most addictive or unappropriated apps. It is also advisable that you bring in "electronic sundowns" – pulling back from all devices an hour before bedtime. To see if your child sticks to the rules, you may want to monitor their iPhone with parental control software.

However, not only time limits are essential. You should probably ban smartphones from your dinner table, family nights, Sunday afternoons, enabling you to have some quality time with your kids, which is also crucial to dealing with the technology obsession. Organize family outings, encourage your kids to spend more time outdoors and buddy up with their peers via face-to-face interaction.

At last, set a good example: cut down your own online time, don't use your phone during meals, and foremost – don't give your device willingly to your kids just to have a moment of peace. Too often, we hand our tablets to our toddlers as pacifiers, just to keep them busy and quiet. Can we expect our children to use technology in moderation, if we encourage them to adopt it from the cradle?

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