An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And it goes for digital addiction too. The World Health Organization has already included video game addiction in its official list. Gadgets are next in line.
Digital addiction causes depression, aggressive behavior, and apathy. No wonder, because you can access the world of games, communication, and endless entertainment at the tap of your finger. Even adults struggle with this abundance of entertainment, so it goes without saying that children don’t fare any better.
The Google study shows that almost all respondents aged 18 to 65 need a digital detox. However, one of the most striking features of this situation is that almost none of the respondents were ready to stop using gadgets.
According to official statistics from the American Academy of Pediatrics, children aged between 8 and 10 spend an average of 8 hours a day on the web. Teens spend even more time — up to 11 hours! One in three toddlers start using tablets before learning to talk!
What do we have to do?
First, we have to admit that gadgets are not entirely evil. In the end, digital technology was invented to make our lives easier. Apart from entertainment, gadgets are also there for communication, shopping, working, and even learning. You can even use the technology to advance your children’s education. The main thing is to take a reasonable approach. We have prepared a list of rules to save your kids from gadget addiction.
1. Spend time together
Take a look around: there are so many interesting things! You don’t have to go to the amusement park to have fun with your child! We are sure that you have board games, glue, brushes, paints, scissors, or a soccer ball at home. Even cooking scrambled eggs with your child can be turned into an exciting game! When there is a will, there is a way.
Children should be able to play with parents and other children. They should be able to engage you and ask you questions. Don’t ignore the child’s natural interest in knowledge. Otherwise, they will look for answers in virtual reality.
2. Organize gadget-free areas at home
It can be a dining room, a living room, or a kid’s room. But remember, all family members won’t be able to use devices in these areas. It’s only fair and will show your kids the seriousness of your intentions. We’d even go as far as placing signs to remind everyone of the rules.
Also, never allow children to use gadgets an hour before bedtime. Scientists have concluded that reading from the screen just before bedtime causes insomnia and impairs the quality of sleep.
3. Lead by example
Children always copy adult behavior. Therefore, if you say one thing and act differently, don’t be surprised when your kid doesn’t take you seriously. If children see that parents spend a lot of time playing games or using social networks, they will behave the same way. Try to develop healthy habits: reading, sports, or crafts.
4. Set a limit on screen time
Determine how much time your child is allowed to spend online, and then install an application that will monitor screen time. There are tons of parental control apps on the App Store and Google Play. But only one of them both controls screen time and encourages children to read. The main principle of the Read2Play app is to read first, and play later! This gives children a sense of freedom and develops the habit of reading for pleasure.
5. Praise their efforts
This is a very important rule! If your child chooses drawing or playing with friends instead of watching cartoons, be sure to praise them! Remember that praise encourages children to try harder.
6. Explain the rules
If you want to limit screen time, then be sure to explain why. Tell your kids about the health risks and the impact of digital addiction. Don’t hesitate sharing your own struggles with device addiction, this way it will feel like you are in this together.
7. Limit the number of gadgets at home
Are you going to buy another device? Think for a moment whether it’s really worth it. Believe me, neither you nor your child really need the latest model of a phone, tablet, or laptop. A better decision would be to save this money for a trip with your family.
One cannot deny that allowing children to play on a tablet is the easiest way to lessen the burden of parenting. Especially when you are too tired or too busy. But, never forget that children are very vulnerable to digital addiction. So don’t be lazy to spend more time with your family! Let me assure you, it is worth doing.