Kids today have it harder than we did. Electronic screens are so alluring that it’s difficult for the child to focus on other parts of their lives. The convenience of having everything at their literal fingertips makes it easy to get addicted.
It’s becoming strange to think there was a time when the most addictive things to us were going to the mall and hanging out with friends. In a 2018 survey of parents with children younger than 18, 47% of parents feel that their child is ‘addicted’ to their mobile device.
So you’ve noticed your teen exhibits the signs of a cell phone addiction you are concerned but you don’t know how to help. Here’s what you can do:
1. Make a Plan
Once you have identified that your teen suffers from a phone addiction, Take time out as a family to create an agreement. The agreement should cover what is considered appropriate use, establish guidelines of use and what constitutes abuse, and potential consequences for broken rules.
You should know however that this step is particularly tricky when you use it only as a corrective measure. If you have younger children, try to set these guidelines before you even get them their own devices. For better success, the rules should be followed consistently and revised as often as new apps become available and as your children grow older.
2. Be a Role Model
Don’t be a ‘Do as I say, not as I do,’ parent. Whether your child is 4 or 14, this parenting style is ineffective. Children learn more from what you do than what you say. If you set usage limits, adhere to them as well.
A recent study shows that 32% of parents who feel their child is addicted to their phone can say the same about themselves.
3. Monitor Screen Time
The new IOS update comes with a screen time monitor which allows you to keep track of screen time in real time. Use this to your advantage. As a family, decide what parameters of phone use are monitored, could be social networking, games, entertainment, etc. At the end of each day, maybe at dinner, gather together to check the usage statistics. The person(s) with the highest stats on the agreed upon parameters would do laundry, dishes, clean up, etc.
4. Utilize Tech Fasts and Drop off Boxes
From time to time try going on family outings while leaving your devices at home. Take time to bond as a family without the distraction and distance that social media constitutes.
Progressively remove leisure tech usage from their everyday routines for a day, a week, or even a month. Replace these devices with reading, playing board games, a family camping trip, face to face hangouts with friends, etc. Do this consistently, little by little In a few weeks, you will notice a significant change in their behaviours.
Drop off boxes can be used to enforce the tech fast. When the agreed time for leisure phone usage has elapsed, have everyone drop their phone in this box to be stowed away. The idea behind this is ‘out of sight, out of mind.’
5. Have Fun With Tech Abstinence
Set competitions within your family about staying off your devices, who can stay offline the longest? Put out rewards such as, getting control of TV time, choosing the next family activity, Cash gift, gift card to a local store, etc.., for the family member who can stay the longest. The rewards you choose must be incentive enough to keep them offline.
6. Understand the Psychological motivation behind the addiction
Talk to your child. Find out the real reason they want to be online all the time. Are they being bullied, Is their phone a personal escape or a coping mechanism? Or is it because they have anxiety when they are away from their phones. Knowing this information will help to get your child the right help they need and curb their -phone addictions.
Sometimes the only way we can help our children adjust to the demands of this technology age is to help them balance their virtual and actual reality.