Kids and smartphones have a complex relationship. They use these devices while in and out of their classes, to manage their social life as well as to organize various activities.
If you’re a parent who feels that your child is always on his cell phone, don’t worry. You are not alone.
A poll conducted by Common Sense Media, a non-profit organization that helps parents, kids, and policymakers in negotiating matters technology, shows that the number of kids who depend heavily on their cell phones is alarming.
According to the poll, 50 percent of teens feel that they are attached to their smartphones, while 59 percent of parents said their children were addicted to mobile devices. A total of 1,240 interviews were conducted during the poll. The children involved were aged between ages 12 and 18.
The study on kids and smartphones has been ongoing for some time now. Between FaceTiming friends and scrolling their Instagram feed, teens use smart devices as a communication tool and as a source of entertainment. This is a trend that we don’t expect to go away at any time soon – with MediaSmarts, revealing that more than half of kids between 10 and 13 years have a smartphone, and the number increases as they get older.
Most parents are reactive – they see their children spending a lot of time on their smart devices, and they resort to nagging them to put them down. However, that approach does not help to teach long-term habits to your kids. Below you’ll find a few better ones you can use to approach this conversation without causing conflict with your kids.
Don’t Demonize Smart Devices and Technology
Are you the kind of parent who rants about how Apple spends a lot of money to get us hooked on their products? This will make you sound uncool.
You should understand that children like media – even adults like media. So, if you become so cynical about media, kids will avoid you.
Instead, speak about the benefits of smart devices. You can talk about how they help with research in school or to stay in touch with family and friends. You can then go into smartphone habits can take into the time they could use to do other enjoyable things, such as going skiing or hanging out with friends.
Let them understand how it could have a negative effect on other areas of their lives.
Make It A “We” Issue
Even we as parents are prone to smartphone addiction for some reason. Both kids and parents are hit by dopamine when their cell phones ping with the arrival of a message.
Sit down with your kids and say something like, ‘this smartphone stuff is affecting our family. We don’t have to keep fighting about it every day. We keep reading about how addictive it can be to kids and adults.’
You can talk about how you’ve turned off notifications to help break the addiction and inspire your children how to do the same.
Use Research Wisely
Are you the kind of parent who thinks that by using overwhelming facts and research, you’ll easily convince your kids to see smartphones your way? This does not usually work.
Talk to your kids about how not getting enough sleep can impact their health, stress levels, mood, and productivity in school. Like you should not text while driving, encourage your kids to keep their phones out of their bedroom at night.
Telling your kids how important it is to spend some time together as a family without using smartphones might help you achieve the results you want.
How to Help Your Kids Balance Life with Smartphone Use
Do not despair yet. You can enjoy a healthy and active life and still let your children enjoy time on smart devices. Here are some tips:
Ensure that your kids do their homework, housework, or any other assignment before getting on their smart devices.
Ensure that your children engage in something active more often. Even if it’s just 15 minutes every hour, their bodies need to move. The idea is to get your kids in the habit of being active while still young.
Educational Unlock Device
Several apps allow parents to monitor the smartphones of their kids. With an educational unlock device, your kid can see some informative content before accessing the home screen.
You can set the delivery method to either low or high intensity.
Smartphone Free Time
If your kids are older and have more control of their smart devices, you can teach them to have some smartphone free time, so they can appreciate the more beautiful things in life that happen when you are not staring at a screen.