Screen addiction has become a major concern these days for all parents. Especially with the current trend of online classes and zoom calls, kids have a lot of reasons to use gadgets. At the end of the day, all the time spent by the kids in front of the screens (be it be mobile, TV’s, tablets, computer) accounts for the screen time only. No wonder this generation of kids is getting addicted to gadgets. We can’t raise our kids like that in the 1990s with absolutely no screen time, as gadgets have become a must in today’s world. So, as parents, we need to work out a plan to handle the screen addiction in kids and turn that into a positive outcome. This blog mainly focuses on that part only.
Signs of Screen Addiction in Kids
The idea that our kids would become gadget zombies in the near future is quite scary, isn’t it? But at the same time, in the current technology-driven world, we are not able to eliminate gadgets completely out of our lives. So the big doubt that plagues most of the parents is what are the red flags that they should start looking for, to understand that their kids are addicted to screens or not.
- Losing interest in all the other activities: If the kids don’t show any interest in outside activities, like playing or spending time with friends. When they prefer gadgets over humans, then it’s a really big red flag that we should get alerted immediately.
- Showing withdrawal symptoms: If the kids are showing withdrawal symptoms when the gadgets are not available and start throwing temper tantrums, then it’s another danger flag waving in front of us. Especially if the kids are not able to engage themselves without gadgets.
- Gadgets work as mood boosters: When kids start using gadgets to escape from a bad day or bad mood, researchers say it could be a sign of screen addiction.
- They talk only about the gadgets and shows: If your kid doesn’t have any topic for communication other than the shows they watch on the gadgets or the videos they see there, it’s another sure shot of screen addiction.
- They hide their gadget usage: If the kids try to hide their time on gadgets and sneak them into their rooms stealthily, it’s obviously a big sign of screen addiction.
As parents, we might observe many more different traits and conditions in our kids, which signifies screen addiction in kids apart from the main symptoms mentioned above. We can only handle screen addiction in kids by converting the time spent on gadgets into a result-oriented one rather than just passive watching.
Tips to wean off kids from Screens:
The following tips worked for me, so I wanted to share them here.
# Family Plan to attack the gadget monsters:
During this pandemic, we all sat down and discussed with each other and kept track of each individual’s screen time in the family for a week. This includes both work time and aimlessly watching and watching for fun. Then we sat and discussed and imposed limits on aimless gadget-watching. So, as per the plan, my child got only 2 hours of tablet or TV time, which would be cut during the current IPL matches since he watches all the IPL matches.
# Sticking to the plan:
Plans can be made easily, but sticking to them is the toughest part for everyone. How can I stop a big cricket fan from watching IPL or any other cricket series? The only way we are able to stick to these plans is by giving him the brownie points, which, if he uses up front to watch the cricket matches, then he has to compensate it by foregoing that many hours in future days. Since, as a family, we are all sticking to our plans, my kid also started this practice.
# Provide Alternatives:
We need to initially provide various alternatives to our kids to spend their time without gadgets. We might have to take up their friend’s or babysitter’s role until they get used to being without gadgets. But without pain, there is no gain, isn’t it?
# Install the parenting control apps or timers on the gadgets:
By installing parenting control apps, we can monitor the usage of the gadgets by our kids, and hence we can limit their usage by setting up limits. These gentle reminders by the gadgets will drive accountability into the kids
# Model the behavior:
It’s easy for us as parents to pick up our mobile and slouch on the sofa while relaxing at the end of the hard day. But it will definitely send wrong signals to our kids. That’s the reason why we need to practice what we preach to our kids.
Lastly, the only way to handle screen addiction in kids is to convert our kid’s screen watching into a productive experience; then, we need not have to worry too much. So we need to introduce our kids to the various available educational and research-based apps. That way, the kids will be able to increase their knowledge and use the gadgets more fruitfully.
Tips for converting Screen addiction into a positive one:
- Introduce your kid to the learning apps on the gadgets so that they can reduce the passive watching time.
- Use the gadgets to read books whose physical copies are not available.
- They can be used to learn new hobbies like dance, yoga, music, painting, etc
- They can be used for research purposes to complete the school projects
- They can be used for journaling and diary writing as well
If we have to convert, Abraham Lincoln’s famous quote on Enemies would be: We must destroy the negative effects of screen addiction by making the gadgets our friends. So friends, if you have any different tips that you are using to keep your kids away from the screens, please share them with us.
Suhasini, IP, is the Author of the book “Practical Tips for Kids Mental Health.” As a certified kids and parents life coach, she helps/guides you toward a happy family life for your kids. She firmly believes, that “Emotionally Happy Kids of today are the Mentally Strong and Happy Citizens of tomorrow.” Let’s make the world a happy and beautiful place for our kids to thrive.