Screen Addiction: The New Addiction

Forget about drugs, alcohol or parties, another very challenging issue for parents is the rate at which teenagers are glued to the screen of their electronic devices. Technology is not a bad thing, only if it is used for the right purpose. However, in recent times, these youngsters appear to have nothing else to do than just stay glued to these gadgets all day. The covid-19 lockdown is not also helping matters, as they are not bothered with school.

They have so grown into the virtual world that they do not care about the real world anymore. Screen time is not just about Television anymore. Unlike before, parents only have to worry about how much time their teens spend in front of the Television. In recent times, the concern has gone beyond that, as teenagers have other screens; phones, video games, computers, etc. When you refuse to address the amount of time your teenage child spends in front of the screen, you are encouraging them to become addicted. 

Screen addiction like every other form of addiction can affect their academics, social life, emotional well-being, and physical health. Apart from an addict not getting the right amount of sleep, getting too used to virtual life makes it hard for such a teenager to engage in a face-to-face conversation.

So how do you prevent your teenage child from getting addicted to the screens of their gadgets? 

I am sure so many options are running through your mind right now; probably you are thinking of taking away their phones, games, computers, or even taking away the Television privileges. As much as these options would work, you will not want your kids to turn rebellious, I will advise you to address this with a gradual process.

There are ways you can approach this without causing a rift between you and your children;

1.   First, come up with a policy that will govern how gadgets are to be used at home. If any of them violates it, reduce their access to phones, television, gaming devices, and laptops.

2.   Do not fix television or computers in their rooms, and if there is any, remove them. You do not want to risk your kids getting exposed to inappropriate content that is beyond their age; drugs and sex most especially. They even stand the risk of getting obese when they spend too much time sitting in front of the Television. 

3.   Be aware of the amount of time your children spend using their devices. If left unchecked, some kids can access adult-rated content like pornography.

4.   Put desktop computers in areas where you can easily monitor their activities. 

5.   Do not allow the use of cell phones at dinner. Family time is sacred and it should be respected. For you, the parent, keep your phones away during this time. If you do the same, you will be able to correct your kids when they do the same without having them talk back at you.

6.   Take away their phones before bedtime so they can enjoy their night’s sleep.

7.   Encourage physical activities. If you ask your kids why they are always on their phones, the excuse they give is that there is nothing else to do. Why not keep them busy? You know, like to spend quality family time – exercise, cooking, cleaning, board games, etc., are some of the activities that will benefit your child physically, socially, and mentally. 

It is no news that too much screen time is not good for the academics of a child. Likewise, in the same way, it causes the children to miss out on activities that would help improve their social and mental skills. Employ some of the strategies given above to reduce the amount of time your children spend in front of the screen.

The technology and screens are always going to be here, so rather than allowing these to change them, we should teach them that these screens can also help them when used moderately.  

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