In the technology-driven world, where AI and the internet are ruling and getting us closer virtually, raising children without gadgets is the next impossible task for parents. Even if the parents try to behave in a digitally responsible way, the pandemic and work from home have lifted the restrictions on gadget usage at home. Hence in this virtual digital world, parents need to keep a closer eye on the digital addiction both in them as well as their children. Without proper boundaries, it’s easier for the child to slip into the digital addiction route.
What is digital addiction?
Digital addiction is the obsessive, compulsive dependency on gadgets such as smartphones, tablets, or computers to spend significant time in online mode. Once when gadget usage starts interfering with your day-to-day life and prevents you from doing what is expected of you, we can call it an addiction. The gadget usage could be in any form like playing video games, browsing the internet, shopping, or social media usage, or non-work-related.
Some psychologists compare this addiction to similar to that of substance abuse. As studies have proven that the continuous use of digital gadgets results in mental health disorders in both children and adults like depression and anxiety. Some psychologists believe that this digital addiction happens due to some underlying psychological disorders. But whatever may be the prognosis, digital addiction has started impacting adults and children a lot.
Types of Digital Addiction:
The most commonly referred technological addiction or the digital addictions are phone, social media and internet addictions. If a person is not able to spend sometime away from the gadgets without checking their social media accounts or browsing the internet, videos or without playing games, then that person is definitely addicted. This addiction can be further sub-classified into online gaming, gambling and cyber porn.
These days, the children are choosing virtual games over the physical games and love to spend their time on video games. As they enter into the teenage, the peer pressure takes a new dimension in the form of social media. Some children are also getting exposed to the online gambling and we get to hear about it a lot in the media.
Psychological impacts of digital addiction
The digital addiction results into the symptoms termed as anhedonia. Anhedonia is the in-ability to feel/derive pleasure out of simple things in life.
When the children are exposed to digital gadgets for longer duration of the time they express their irritability, frustration and anger when the gadgets have been turned off. As they are left clueless as to how to spend time, they tend to feel lonely and depressed, when the gadgets are not around.
Anhedonia destructs the pleasure centre in the brain and increases the dopamine production which is associated with the prolonged alcohol or substance usage. That’s the reason why psychologists are seeing a higher influx in the childhood depression and anxiety cases.
The digital gadgets should be treated as similar to other areas in life and the children should be exposed with tight boundaries about their usage. So that, they can become more digitally smart and responsible kids rather than the digitally addicted children.
Also, these tips would help you identify the depression in your child
How do you decide whether your child has gadget addiction?
Some sure shot signs of gadget addiction are as follows:
- Not interested in socialising or spending time with humans
- Neglecting most important aspects like food, studies, work and relationships
- Experiencing the irritability or depression, anxiety when the gadgets are not available
- Using gadgets as pacifiers in different situations and emotions
- Complusive usage of gadgets and experiencing the cravings to use those gadgets
- Not able to keep the hands away from the gadgets even while in the public places or driving
- Not able to limit the time of gadget usage and shut it down (even during emergency situations)
Some child psychologists have come up with the online quizzes to determine the basic technology addiction in self or in the children. So parents can take these quizzes or consult the cyber psychology coaches for the further guidance if the child exhibits the above symptoms.
How to control digital addiction.
Children are good observers and they learn a lot just by observation. The best way to control the gadget addiction in the children is to become good role models for them. As parents, when we start following healthy limits for gadget usage the children would start following us.
Every family should have a healthy gadget usage plan which we can use to determine each and every individual gadget usage in the family. How we try to have the healthy home cooked meal to maintain our physical health, to maintain our mental and emotional health, its time for us to implement the family gadget usage rules in our house.
Having a gadget down time routines during the weekends or even during meal times builds the bonding among the family members. The family which is more connected would stay on track on the gadget usage plan in a more easier way.
In this technology driven world, we need to build the healthy relationship with the gadgets rather than treating them as enemies. So, as family we need to discuss how to use the gadgets in a positive and friendly way rather than mind-numbing watching.
AAP has provided different family media usage limits and suggestions for different platform usages based on the age of the individuals in the family. Taking that as the basis, we can fine tune this plan to suit our family requirements as every family’s needs are different and unique.
QOTD: Ask your child what the gadget zombie means to them and what is the one most important step that we can undertake so that we wouldn’t become gadget zombies.