It’s highly unlikely for someone to not own a smartphone. And it’s also highly unlikely that a child from the new generation is unfamiliar or hasn’t used a smartphone. As technology is ever-evolving, younger generations are more updated when it comes to new technology and also have more exposure to it. Technology is now part of their everyday lives and has become essential in their routine. However, for many years, research upon research of the effect of phone use in children has caused parents to be more concerned with their children.
It’s not very uncommon to hear of the term “phone addiction”. However, with the recent circumstances and the switch to online learning, children’s usage of smartphones has also been on the rise. With this, it can also be quite difficult for parents to monitor their children’s phone usage. As children will also ask for their privacy, parents can’t also hound them over and watch their every move. So, how can parents prevent their children from being addicted to their phones without watching over their shoulders all the time?
Exposure to smartphones has become a normal occurrence in modern society. Because of the advancement in technology, more and more tasks are being added to our smartphones which indirectly makes us rely upon them. Tasks like checking the time and calendar, looking at your schedule, making notes on groceries are all pretty common tasks you can find on smartphones now. Not to also mention that smartphones also act as cameras that help store memories of precious moments and allow them to be shared in just a click.
As such, there is a connection where the mental health of children can be linked to their increased usage of mobile gadgets such as their phones and tablets. For teenagers especially as they can be more drawn to constantly checking in their social media and phones for notifications which is the result of them developing a fear of missing out syndrome. They always wanted to be “in the know” and are subconsciously afraid of missing out on anything, whether it’s important or not. This is also why they may tend to always check their phones every few minutes.
For younger children, the case may be different. Smartphones are not being used as some sort of pacifier for them. They use their smartphones at a young age as a source of constant entertainment for them. This can be so for many reasons. It can be because their parents have something to do and they need to keep their child entertained or it can be because the parent wants to keep their child quiet. However, parents will most likely forget that keeping their children always preoccupied will not allow them the time to be bored and thus, find new and creative ways to use their time.
As such, children who are addicted to their smartphones are more prone to not being active physically and socially, and thus, they may be prone to childhood obesity and behavioral problems like difficulty in concentration and aggressiveness. If parents or their guardians cannot control their children’s phone addiction once it has started, it can be even more damaging for the child’s overall well-being in the long run.
There are many ways to know if your child is getting addicted to their smartphones and the most notable one is that is they have been using the device for the whole day and they refuse to put it away. It can even become harder when you talk to them and their eyes are still glued on the screen as if they can’t look away for just a moment. Another common sign is when they refuse to go out and play and opt to stay indoors with their devices. This may not always be seen as a problem, especially with the current situation. But if the child refuses to even leave their room to socialize with the members of the family, that can pose as a problem and may even be the start of them having social and behavioral issues.
Parents only want what’s best for their children and if using their phones all day is posing as a threat to their well-being, it’s time for them to step in. It can be difficult for parents to interrupt their children from their smartphones, even more so since they need to use them for their studies and other needs, but don’t fret! We have some tips that parents can try to help with reducing their children’s phone use and help prevent phone addiction.
One good way to help prevent phone addiction is to set an area inside the house the doesn’t allow phone use. It can be anywhere such as in the living room, kitchen, dining area, or even in the areas that your child often stays in while being glued to their phones. It can be difficult to do this the first time and there may be some protests as well. But if you do decide to do it, you can also start by introducing your child to other forms of activities that wouldn’t require them to use their phones in those areas such as family activities or even household chores.
As an example, if the chosen “no-phone” area is the kitchen, you can ask your child to help you with cooking meals instead. If it’s the dining area, you can entice them with family conversations and talk to them about their day. If the “no-phone” area is the living room, you can host a board games night for the family or engage them with other fun activities that the family can bond together and distract them from not using their phone.
Children, especially young ones, learn most by imitation. They see what their parents or grown-ups are doing and they copy them. So, that also goes to say that if children see their parents on their phones the whole day, chances are they will also copy you. Aside from that, they will also have a reason to be fixated on their phones and have reasons to argue when parents point out their children’s actions since parents are also doing the same. They may also point out in an argument that if their parents are doing it, why can’t they?
Before this situation arises, parents should also try to take their reliance on their phones a notch down. Set an example and show your child you can also do other things that don’t require a phone in their hands such as watching a good program, reading a novel, doing artistic activities, and doing hobbies. It can also even be a great time for you to present them with new ideas and activities they might want to do to spark their own creativity and passions.
It’s true that parents aren’t always there to monitor their children’s activities, especially when they are using their phones. But this is not farfetched now with new technology and special features that will allow parents to monitor their child’s usage. Modern smartphones also come with parental control features that will allow parents to see and regulate what their children can do with their phones and even have features that will automatically stop the phone when they have reached their daily usage limit.
Some apps and features also allow parents to view reports of their child’s activities through connecting to their child’s linked phone account. Parents can check with their children and toggle with these features and set them according to their children’s needs. At the same time, also be mindful of respecting your child’s privacy. As such, refrain from letting them borrow your phone when they have reached their daily usage limit as this will only defeat the purpose of setting it up in the first place. Be firm in letting them know that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated.
We’ve already mentioned that engaging in non-digital activities can also help in distracting your child and will help in helping prevent phone addiction. With this, parents should also encourage their children to do more non-digital activities and not just a means to distract them from their phones. Parents can support these activities by giving their children the resources they may need in order to pursue these activities. It can be a book on a topic they are interested in, sports equipment for games they may enjoy, or even art supplies for creative ideas they may want to put on paper.
As such, doing these activities with them will also help in stimulating them. Children may need some prodding or people they can play with for them to try something new and their parents may just be the person they need for this.
Smartphones are undeniably valuable and important in today’s world but it’s also important to remember that too much of them can be harmful, especially for children. So, while it’s not too late, educate your child on the effects of using their phones too much and help them with activities that can prevent them from being addicted to their phones.
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