7 ways to break smartphone addiction in children
Are you concerned that your child spends too much time on screens? Learn 7 ways to break your child's smartphone addiction from experts.
In today's digital age, it can be quite difficult for parents to keep their kids away from a screen. The proximity of digital technology is growing daily. Each home now has two to three smart devices. The online world is extremely addictive and can have a negative impact on a child's overall development. (Also read: 7 steps to take your child out from gaming addiction )
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr. Angana Nandy, Development Psychologist and Founder of Hopscotch Child Therapy, shared, "When you have children, you know that they are going to be exposed to a lot of different things. They might become dependent on smartphones and tablets as a result of technological exposure. For both children and adults, it can develop into an addiction. We must be aware of this issue and how we may aid in preventing children from developing a digital addiction because many parents don't notice it until it is too late."
Further, she said, "Smartphone addiction can have a negative impact on your child's mental health, social relationships, school performance and sleep habits. But it doesn't have to be that way! The good news is that you can break your child's smartphone addiction with just a few simple strategies".
1. Acknowledge: It’s hard to understand how much time kids spend on their devices, but it’s easy to spot the difference between kids who are just playing with their phones and those who are using them as a source of entertainment or distraction. One clear sign of smartphone addiction in children is increased temper and tantrums related to losing access to a phone or tablet. The first step to breaking smartphone addiction in kids is to recognize the symptom. Turning a blind eye may do more harm than acknowledging it exists and devising ways to tackle it.
2. Educate children on the side effects of too much screen time: You might have the urge to take away a smartphone from your child every time they are on it. Setting rules without explaining the reasons behind them rarely have the desired effect. Before setting the screen-time rules at home, explain to your child the negative effects of too much screen time in a language that they will understand.
3. Set screen time limits: Set a daily limit on the amount of time your child can use a smartphone. Setting a routine has been proven to be a great strategy to get kids to stick to rules and also reduce some of the stress associated with raising young children. It is advisable that children below the age of 18 months should not be exposed to screens. Children between 18-24 months of age can be briefly exposed to high-quality children’s programs under parental supervision. Children between 2 to 5 years of age should be allowed screen time of no more than an hour per day. For children above 6 years, parents can decide on a suitable time limit while ensuring that the child has plenty of opportunities for engaging in other activities and healthy sleep habits.
4. Digital-free zones at home: Try not to keep your child's phone in his or her bedroom when he or she goes to sleep. This can lead to bedtime struggles and maladaptive sleep patterns which, in turn, affect the overall growth and development of your child. Even in the absence of a set bedtime, make sure your child isn't spending excessive amounts of time staring at screens after dark. Additionally, no screen time around mealtimes, homework time and in public spaces. Even during tantrums, there is nothing wrong with being stern. Giving in to your kid’s tantrums won’t help them value rules because they will learn to get away with it.
5. Encourage physical activities: Make sure your child is spending enough time away from technology at home to play outside or do other physical activities. If he or she is spending too much time on devices, consider limiting screen time at home. Joining the activities with kids are a great way to ensure that the physical games are enjoyable and stimulating enough to keep them engaged.
6. Media fast: While this sounds hard to implement, media fast can go a long way in breaking unhealthy smartphone relationships. Set aside a week of the day during which no smartphones and tablets can be used. On a no-device day, encourage your kids to participate in household chores, learn new activities or engage in arts and crafts activities.
7. Be a role model: Before you expect your child to follow screen-time rules, ensure that you are setting a good example yourself. Kids learn more from what they see than what they hear. Keep track of your own smartphone usage and set rules for yourself as you do for your kids.