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 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 the 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 the kids start using gadgets, to escape from a bad day or bad mood then the researchers say that 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, its another sure shot of screen addiction
- They hide their gadget usage: If the kids are trying to hide the time they spend on gadgets and sneak gadgets into their rooms stealthily, it’s obviously a big sign of screen addiction.
As parents, we might observe a lot more different traits and conditions in our kids which signifies the screen addiction in kids apart from the main symptoms mentioned above. The only way, we can handle the screen addiction in kids is by converting the time spent on the gadgets into a result oriented one rather than just passive watching.
Tips to wean off kids from Screens:
The following are the tips that worked for me and hence wanted to share them here.
# Family Plan to attack the gadget monsters:
During this pandemic time, we all sat down and discussed with each other and kept track of each and every individual’s screen time in the family for a week. This includes both the work time and aimless watching and watching for fun too. Then we sat and discussed and imposed limits on the aimless gadget watching. So, as per the plan, my child got only 2 hours of tablet or TV time, which of course 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 role or a baby sitter role till the time they get used to being without gadgets. But with out pain, there is no gain isn’t it?
# Install the parenting control apps or timers on the gadgets:
By installing the parenting control apps, we can monitor the usage of the gadgets by our kids and hence we can limit their usage by setting up the 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 the 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 educational and research-based apps that are available. That way, the kids will be able to increase their knowledge and use the gadgets more fruitfully.
Tips to convert Screen addiction into a postive 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, then it would be: We have to destroy the negative effects of the 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 with us.