By Tracey Clayton,
The digital age has come around rather quickly overtaking our lives, eliminating all the habits and routines we used to have and commanding its presence in almost every part of our daily lives. We cannot imagine our lives without TVs, computers, IPads and especially our mobile phones. In the last decade Smartphones and social networks have entered the lives of our elderly and our children, with every fifth person owning a Smartphone which amounts to five billion people.
This would not be alarming if the negative impact of technology on our lives was not staring us in the face. We are all impacted, but it seems that children are the ones who suffer the most.
According to a research carried out by AXA car insurance, the average age children get their own phones is 11, and 75% of them take their devices with them to school. A lot of them admit using phones while crossing roads and paying more attention to the phones than the traffic. Kids also update their Facebook and browse the internet on their daily walk to and from school. The risk of being involved in a road traffic accident is high and on the rise as more kids take their gadgets with them.
Children have forgotten how to play without Smartphones and they turn to their gadgets for entertainment, making connections with peers, and even learning. Kids don’t get enough fresh air and physical activity, they develop asocial behavior and don’t learn basic communication skills, their cognitive and emotional development is impaired as well as their physical health.
If your kid shows symptoms like weight loss, insomnia, irritability, anxiety and isolation when you take their Smartphone away, you might be facing a full blown Smartphone addiction in your kid. This is the real danger since, according to David Greenfield, a psychologist who writes books on virtual addiction, the use of technology is psychoactive, meaning it alters our brain chemistry and changes our normal responses to stimuli. If you suspect your kid might be addicted to their Smartphone, you will need to take immediate steps to minimize the negative consequences.
- Set a good example: if you or anyone else in the house has a phone addiction, the kids will copy your behavior. Be a good role model, if you want the kids off the phone, get off the phone yourself.
- If you have a young kids, enroll them in a good child care centres. They employ trained professionals who know how to improve children’s concentration, communication and social skills, and how to replace technology with useful classes like drama, sports, cooking and arts.
- Set limits: you can limit the amount of time your kids are allowed to use their Smartphones and other technology to one or two hours a day. You can also schedule the phone use to certain periods of the day. You can create passwords and restrict access.
- Monitor your kid’s cell phone activity: this is easiest if you let your kid use your or your partner’s device and not let them have their own. You can let them use the Smartphone only in the common area like the living room and not allow them to take it to their own room.
- Set no-phone times: it is important to insist on no-phone policy for things like family lunch and dinner, and this rule should apply to everyone in the house, adults included. This can also be the rule to apply for family visits and entertaining guests at home.
- No phone while driving or walking, cycling or skating.
- Let the kids know the rules: set up simple rules like giving them two warnings before taking the phone away. Warn them once in advance so they know phone time is running out soon, give them a second warning to put the phone away, and if they don’t, take it away. In case they break the rules two or three times in a row, you can keep the phone for a few days.
Most importantly, stick to the rules and apply reward or punishment accordingly, you will quickly see results. If all else fails, seek professional help in the form of cognitive behavioural therapy. Do understand that phone obsession is a serious problem and that you might have to take matters into your own hands in order to raise a healthy individual.
Tracey Clayton is a full time mom of three girls. She loves cooking, baking, sewing, spending quality time with her daughters and she’s passionate for writing. She is contributor on High Style Life and her motto is: “Live the life you love, love the life you live.” Find her on Facebook.