Gadgets And Kids- How Much Is Too Much?
How much time did your son/daughter spend on a smartphone yesterday? Do you know what applications they normally use and use and for how much time? Are they easily accessing the internet via their tablet/phone?
Are your kids talking to strangers online? Does your your child prefer playing games on gadgets over sleeping, playing outside or other activities?
If these questions worried you or you’re unsure of the answers, it’s possible that you need to more closely supervise probably your children’s gadget usage.
Internet at fingertips, amazing gadgets, educational and entertaining apps created only for children have been a boon for children and parents alike! But experts are warning that overuse of technology is affecting physical and mental health of kids.
Overuse of technology makes kids vulnerable to 'Technology Addiction'. This is a relatively new concepts and few are aware of how harmful this can be - for kids and adults.
Parents, be warned - Smartphone Addiction Is A Real Thing!
Mr. Balhara, a psychiatrist at AIIMS said: "MRI studies and CAT scans for mobile addicts have shown patterns similar to those suffering from heroin and cocaine addiction,".
Mr. Sameer Malhotra, the head of Mental Health and Behavioral Science at Max Hospitals in Delhi shared the details of a case where a 12-year old kid got so addicted to his smartphone that he preferred soiling his pants than getting away from his gadget to use the restroom. There are many such cases but the awareness regarding smartphone abuse is gradually increasing ever since the Blue Whale Online Game Challenge engulfed the lives of more than 100 Indian children.
Parents, Look Out For These Worrisome Signals!
Using technology responsibly is need of the hour - look out for behavioral changes and be alert so you can prevent kids from becoming addicted to technology:
- Persistent use of smartphones and avoiding social interaction;
- For kids without smartphones, frequently requesting parents for gadgets and throwing tantrums on denial;
- Drastic change in sleeping patterns to suggest overuse of phones at night;
- Refusing to eat without smartphone in their hands;
- Obsessed with fictional gaming characters; and
- Abrupt disengagement with once loved hobbies, games, and friends.
What is the solution here then? The answer is simple - clear boundaries & careful observation!
Here are some effective pointers on how to prevent smartphone addiction in your kids:
- Scheduling! Set limits for screen time - TV, computers & mobiles!
- Keep a check on whether their homework is completed and not incomplete due to game breaks on phone.
- Create strict mobile-free zones in your home - dining table, bed, study table etc. where kids cannot use their phones. This will ensure adequate tech-free hours to and prevent addiction.
- Monitor your child’s social presence. Almost all SM platforms feature ‘Last Seen’ which allows you to track their presence
- Sign-up your kids for hobby classes and urge the teachers to have mobile-free sessions
- Avoid being too strict - be vigilant, flexible but always in exchange for recovery
So to recap, when it it 'Too Much'??
When a child prefers a smartphone over meals, meeting friends, hobbies, sleep, studies or even spending time with you (the parent) is when tech use is ‘Too Much’. Be observant, draw clear boundaries and keep your kids safe!