How to stop being addicted to a smartphone
Despite all the advantages of technology, your smartphone shouldn’t be your only friend and conversation partner in this world. Phone addiction is a kind of addiction similar to alcoholism, drug addiction, and gambling. Of course, it won’t injure your health like alcohol but its “toxicity” affects human consciousness and relations with the world. Some effective strategies will help you and your child to break free from phone addiction.
1. Do not do everything on one device. A smartphone can replace today’s books, newspapers, magazines, MP3 player, camera, TV, game console, computer, and many other useful things. Plus, it gives you broader opportunities that the previous generations didn’t have. But it doesn’t mean that we have to let it replace everything.
2. When you switch between different activities it is good both for your brain and body. This approach makes your life more versatile. And you will be not that much addicted to one device because your likes and feelings will be shared between many different things. Family dinner or an important meeting is not the best place for you to use your smartphone.
3. Limit your screen time. Installing parental control app on your device will be a great support for this. If you feel like you might be addicted to your phone, parental control will be of great help for you to become more self-disciplined and self-controlled in this area.
4. Disable notifications. You just reach out your smartphone to check another notification and it turns into half-hour scrolling of news feed. Are you familiar with that? That’s because alerts are addictive and you even don’t notice how you’re drawn to them. If you turn the notifications off, you won’t have a temptation to check another notice. In case you’re afraid to miss something important, start with turning the sound off.
5. Establish phone-free periods each day. Let’s be honest, we don’t need the phone around all the time. So why not to get rid of the device during dinner, while watching a film or talking to your family. Schedule your phone use and arrange phone-free periods. Put the phone off when you’re busy with something else. For instance, you may not check the phone while making dinner in the afternoon or spending time with your family in the afternoon. This easy trick will reduce distraction and you’ll see how quickly you become less addicted to your phone.
6. Put it away. If you don’t have physical access to your smartphone right away, you’re less likely to check it every single minute. So put it on mute, hide it in a drawer, and see how it works. You’ll make sure this advice helps to concentrate on work and to avoid distractions. Out of sight, out of mind.
7. Lock it. There are certain apps (Kidslox is one of them) that allow locking your device. You can either schedule the time when the phone will be locked or the device will be shut down after you run out of your daily limit of screen time. The software is more appropriate for kids, still, adults can effectively use it to lick the habit.
8. Keep it away from the bedroom. The phone next to your bed means it’s within touching distance so you’re likely to check it before sleep or as soon as you get up. Researchers claim that using mobile devices before sleep activates the nervous system that keeps us up. So putting your gadget away will not only help you to become less addicted to your phone but also promote quick falling asleep and easy waking up in the morning.
9. Replace the bad habit. When you’re bored and want to kill the time, why not to grab a book instead of your phone? Psychologists advise replacing a bad habit of constant phone checking with a good one. So now when you stand in the queue or have some spare minute, feel free to read a few pages of your favorite author instead of scrolling news feed on your smartphone.
10. Get real. Instead of interacting with your nearest and dearest over the phone or on social media, find time for face-to-face meetings. Try to communicate with real people, not virtual friends and acquaintances. Meet people in real life, share real emotions and conversations. It’s really great!
11. Change thinking. Change of thoughts will refresh your emotions and influence your attitude towards cell phone use. Mind that whatever you’re going to check on the phone is not so essential as it may seem. Whenever you’re tempted to text or read the news feed, ask yourself if this is urgent or can be put off.
Remember that the addiction takes place when there are problems in your life. If you live a full life, if you have proper ways to overcome difficulties like communication with your nearest and dearest, you’re less likely to develop an addiction. So the lasting fix to become less addicted to your phone is not about the phone itself. It is more about the change of the priorities and dedicating more time to people around you.
How to help your child deal with smartphone addiction?
As a parent, I know for myself how much easier it is to let my kids play on the devices than take them out to the park to play on the swings. Yet you still struggle sometimes to get the kids outside. Once the kids are outside they have a great time and come back more content and settled, whereas an afternoon on devices often leads to petty arguments and grumpiness. The hardest thing is prising them off their devices to get them out in the first place.
Creating a more balanced attitude toward technology in your home won’t happen overnight, but there are a number of clear strategies that you can take to help manage the situation.
Explain – It may seem obvious to you that your teen’s excessive phone use is disruptive and is becoming a problem, but they might not see it that way. Make sure you talk with them about some of the potential downsides to their behaviour, including the negative effects multitasking can have on their focus and productivity and the risk constant social media use can have on their real-life social skills. If they understand the problem they’ll be more motivated to join in with efforts to solve it.
Explaining how you see things to someone else (including your kids) can also help you to come up with your own, homemade solutions; it’s all very well to read an article like this about what you might do, but once you start discussing these ideas with other people you’ll find that it helps you to solidify your view and develop your own strategy for dealing with the problem.
Set boundaries – Creating set times or places that will be device free helps to establish some limits on device use. It’s crucial to provide opportunities for your family to communicate with each other without the distraction of their phones, tablets and other screens. If you need a hand getting the devices switched off, parental control apps can be a lifesaver, but their use always needs to be accompanied by clear explanation of why they’re being used and of any conditions you want to attach to their use (eg. Don’t arbitrarily turn the device off because it’s bugging you, first warn “If your homework’s not done by 6pm, your device will be locked for the rest of the evening”).
Lead the way – As the Common Sense Media survey suggests, this will be a real challenge for many of us. Dependence on technology is not just a teenage problem. The example set by parents is the fundamental guide for the behaviour of younger children and whilst teens may not be quite so quick to follow suit, they’ll certainly be hostile towards perceived hypocrisy on our part.
Check in – Keep the conversation about technology use and media consumption with your kids ongoing. Ask them what sites, apps or games they’re spending time on, what they’re watching, what shows their friends talk about at school. Watch an episode together with them or have a go yourself at the games they’re playing to both understand the material better and show your willingness to engage with the technology and find compromise together. Ask them what they like and dislike about the media they watch and use and what message they think that media is sending them.
I find the hardest thing as a parent is being disciplined and consistent with my children over screen time, it’s hard enough to restrict my own screen time let alone theirs! I have found the best solution is to allow them a fixed amount of time per day, and allow them to choose when that is, I have put a chart on the fridge where I can note down their screen time for the day. Kidslox helps with me with this as I can give a fixed amount of screen time after which the device locks by itself which saves the struggle of getting the device off my children!
Further, we’ll have a closer look at different aspects of phone addiction. Check out what are the reasons of obsession and run a quick test to find out if you are addicted to your smartphone.
What do the statistics say?
Especially vulnerable to phone addiction are kids and teenagers. A recent survey by American non-profit Common Sense Media (CSM) suggests that 50% of teens consider themselves to be addicted to their mobile devices and that parents suspect the number is even higher. Perhaps equally alarming, the same study found that 27% of those same parents would describe themselves as being addicted to their devices too! The study asked over 1200 teens and parents about their use of and attitudes towards smartphones and other mobile devices.
The report recognises the ambiguity of the word ‘addiction’ and elsewhere CSM has noted the difference between natural ‘super engagement’ and genuine addiction, which might be characterised by poor “behavior, mood changes, falling grades, mounting bills, or a lack of human interaction”. Even so, the report’s tone is largely cautionary, warning that internet addiction is potentially serious and requires additional study and that problematic media use can lead to reduced empathy and social-wellbeing as well as being a source of tension for many families.
According to a recent article in the Telegraph British kids are some of the most house bound and screen addicted in the world. 74% of our children spend less time than an hour a day outside which is the minimum recommended by the UN for prisoners. 18% of UK kids don’t play outside regularly at all, the main excuse given being the weather. The same survey found that British parents estimated that their children spend 26 per cent on average of their free time inside in front of a screen, compared to 21 per cent across the other countries surveyed, and only 12 per cent outdoors.
What are the reasons of phone addiction?
Fear of helplessness and isolation from the outside world. As soon as a telephone booth became a thing of the past, smartphones got to be our everyday companions. And if previously the absence of connection with the world was quite natural, today it may lead us to panic: no chance for the emergency call, no connection with relatives and friends, to say nothing of the social media.
Advertising. Adults are still able to face the flood of unnecessary information, while children aren’t able to eliminate irrelevant stuff. Moreover, even decent advertising in movies and cartoons make children think that life’s impossible without a phone. As for adults, they are manipulated by numerous sales, discounts, fashion trends, etc.
The fear of solitude. The phenomenon of self-sufficiency gradually passes into oblivion. And the modern generation mistakes self-sufficiency for the ability to be alone for a long time surrounded by mobile phones, tablets, and laptops. Are there people who could easily manage at least a day without modern means of communication? No more than 10% will survive in that kind of “hell.” Why? What is wrong with spending a day in a real life without any gadgets? It turns out you receive no messages, no calls, no e-mails, no chats on Skype and Facebook. And you become redundant and feel emptiness as if you were on a desert island.
The illusion of sociality and impunity. In real life, a person might have no friends, be reserved, have complexes. A phone gives the possibilities to feel needed and ignore any barriers of real life. On the Internet you can be anyone you want, ignore decency, not to restrain your temper, not to feel guilty. Using texts or chat rooms people have a romance, break relationships, cross the boundaries that they have in real life.
Smartphone addiction causes imbalance in kids brains
Parents and children keep tapping on apps and social media, because they’re designed to build habitual behaviour. Once you get hooked by persuasive technology, it means that your brain’s neurotransmitters have been damaged and become dysfunctional. Neurotransmitters are a type of chemical messenger which transmits signals across a chemical synapse, from one neuron to another “target” neuron. Phone addiction ruins the way our brains work, causing chemical imbalance that could lead to severe anxiety, tiredness and depression.
There are two types of neurotransmitter that are important in the matter of digital overuse and screen time problems: GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid) and dopamine. Here are some useful facts to know, before you check your phone’s notifications again.
“Our product is a slot machine that plays you”
Nowadays tech companies are not hiding the fact that they always try to consume as much of our time and conscious attention as possible. Sean Parker, ex-president of Facebook admitted: “We give you a dopamine hit. It literally changes your relationship with society, with each other. It probably interferes with productivity in weird ways. God only knows what it’s doing to children’s brains.” They hired psychologists and “attention-engineers” to glue us to screens and click the “right” buttons. Such tech-companies as Google and Apple have spent decades commercializing our attention and advancing addictive design. And now our brains can’t quit our gadgets, because we played a dangerous game with a dopamine.
What dopamine does in the brain
As a neurotransmitter dopamine helps to control our brain’s reward and pleasure centers. It was discovered in 1957 as one of the major transmitters, which carry urgent messages between neurons, nerves and other cells in the body. For instance, thanks to dopamine we know to get a glass of water when we feel thirsty. In the 1980’s, after the experiments on rats by Wolfram Schultz, a neuroscientist at Cambridge University, showed that dopamine levels impact on desire, ambition, addiction and sex drive. The scientist showed that, inside the midbrain, dopamine relates to the reward we receive for an action. For the research, he placed pieces of apple behind a screen and saw a huge dopamine response when the rat bit into the food. The dopamine process anticipates a reward to an action, and if the reward is met, boosts the behaviour to become a habit.
Then he found that rewarding it in a random schedule is the strongest way to reinforce a learned behaviour in rats. So, when you’re favoured by luck, dopamine is released. To compare, look at the randomness of the Facebook feed. All social media apps today use “digital confetti” to give the user what he wants at random intervals.
The power of the dopamine system is very familiar to drug addicts and smokers. Every habit-forming synthetic drug affects the dopamine system by dispersing more and more dopamine than usual. Overusing is the consequence of wanting more and more pleasure to feel normal.
“These unnaturally large rewards are not filtered in the brain – they go directly into the brain and overstimulate, which can generate addiction. When it happens we lose our willpower. Evolution hasn’t prepared brains for these drugs. We are abusing a useful and necessary system,” – Wolfram Schultz explains.
More recent research of the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, showed that dopamine levels are one of the key differentiators between human beings and other apes. Human striatum produce three times more dopamine than in the ape striatum. This fact could contribute to human-specific aspects of cognition or behaviour.
Sue’s brain and phone addiction
Here’s a short story about a girl, Sue, and her screen addiction. It explains how the brain works with addiction. It is cycling to get more dopamine again and again:
1. First, Sue is looking at her smartphone, and interacts with a “rewarding stimulus.” A rewarding stimulus is something that provokes an action.
2. So the girl wants “to check her device.”
Rewarding stimuli include:
- natural rewards: food, water, sex etc.
- synthetic (more harmful addictive substances): cocaine, heroin, and amphetamines.
Just looking at her gadget reminds Sue of some “likes”, and the reward is enough to cause a reaction.
- Sue has taken the phone in her hands and goes to Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook or an online game. When the “reward pathway” is stimulated, it triggers the release of dopamine.
- Dopamine tells the brain to pay attention: something is about to happen. In Sue’s case, she is on her way to check notifications, get new “likes” and new messages from social media.
- Sue’s brain heeds dopamine’s message, shifting into a state of wanting, expecting, and desiring pleasure. Certain stimuli, such as addictive screen time, can trigger the release of more dopamine than natural rewards. It floods the brain with an acute sense of craving. Every time the girl Sue needs to receive more and more dopamine to feel pleasure, if she doesn’t receive it, she feels a similarly acute disappointment.
- Over time, the brain adjusts and becomes less sensitive to dopamine, meaning that Sue physically cannot experience as much pleasure as she did before. She’ll need more of the rewarding stimulus (screen time, “likes”, facebook feed, online gaming) to feel the same effect (a phenomenon known as “tolerance”). Eventually, Sue will need to interact with her phone (rewarding stimuli) just to feel normal.
Abusing our emotions
When you’re already addicted to your phone, another neurotransmitter can crash the brain’s functioning. Gamma aminobutyric acid is a chief inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system. This chemical slows down signals in the brain. Hyung Suk Seo, a professor of neuroradiology at Korea University in Seoul, carried out some research with teenagers, who had been diagnosed with internet or smartphone addiction. They were put through a test MRS, which indicates the chemical formulation of people’s brains.
It found that the ratio of GABA to other neurotransmitters (creatine and glutamate) was off. The effects could be linked to problems with processing information and emotions, including sleep disorders and productivity.
Scientists say that one more important issue in screen addiction is multitasking. Families are integrating gadgets into their lives, and associate them with time-saving behaviour – multitasking.
There are at least three different forms of multi-tasking that involve devices:
- within medium (switching among multiple windows on a smartphone or computer)
- between media (texting on Facebook while watching Youtube or playing online game)
- between media and human beings (taking a selfie while out to dinner with family).
There is ongoing concern over how this affects our ability to concentrate and avoid distraction. Multitasking may decrease productivity because users take time to reorient after a transition to a different activity and become cognitively fatigued, which slows their rate of work. Also, it makes it more difficult to create memories in the brain that can be accurately retrieved later.
Anyway, Kidslox is always on the side of your brain’s health. Our parental controls can help protect your kids and all the family from phone and internet addiction. Schedule your day, set daily limits and control a child’s gadgets remotely by limiting their screen usage. The Kidslox team wants our children to have balance in their brains.
Screenagers Movie Review
Screenagers (a neologism of screen and teenagers) is a 67-minute long documentary addressing probably one of the most important and difficult parenting issues of modern times – the love/hate triangle of “parents – children – digital world”.
Documentary about screen time issues
Discussions around this topic have been here for a while but much about the digital dimension remains unknown to quite a lot of us. In many cases parents know much less than their kids do. At the same time both this issue and parenting in general are often somewhat sensitive, private matters for parents (especially when we feel we’ve failed or done something wrong), so we’re not really open to discussing it publically. Screenagers tries to bring more light to the problem of parenting in the age of the smartphone.
What’s the plot?
Screenagers tells us how modern teens interact with their computers, phones and other electronic devices. You will hear about the opportunities and dangers of social media and computer games, about internet consumption and digital citizenship, and how all of these things affect and even shape young people’s lives. The movie is filled with research results, statistics and interviews with relevant medical and social professionals from educators to brain scientists to provide deep insight on the topic.
These studies and expert opinions are interlaced with the personal story of the movies director. Over the course of the film you learn how director Delaney Ruston, who is also a mom and a doctor, is trying to make balanced, wise decisions about whether her daughter should have the smartphone she really wants, and how this may change her life and her parents’ life.
What’s it like?
Screenagers is very informative and tries hard to avoid being judgmental. The directors try to give honest answers to quite controversial and hard questions.
Despite the seriousness of the issue and some rather depressive statistics, there are a lot of positive takeaways in the movie, it offers real hope. It’s not too late for parents to fight with kids’ cell phone addiction. We don’t need to just accept the fact that social media will influence our kids more than we do. The studies presented in the movie show that people can successfully resist bad digital habits. And kids can be taught some basic digital etiquette and can be more willing to limit their smartphone usage for the sake of important things like study and conversation with friends and family than you might expect.
The movie will resonate with many parents’ situations, in fact a lot of people have found it very useful already, with screenings taking place all across the states. Check out common sense media’s review page to get a taste of what other parents thought after watching.
Teens also easily recognize themselves in the movies characters. Whether they agree with the solutions Delany proposes or not, the presentation of the problem is powerful and hard to deny. It makes a fantastic starting point for discussing screen time issues with teens and possibly for beginning a conversation about what sort of rules are appropriate in their case .
Important parenting and screen time issues in screenagers
The impact of screen time on kids and teens. According to a study done by the movie’s authors an average child spends about 6.5 hours a day at screen and more than 11 hours a week playing video games (some of them at the cost of their sleep). Among the problems being addressed in the movie are:
- general phone addiction;
- teens’ obsessive desire to take photos of themselves for social media and their worry about how they look;
- how too much screen time at a certain age can cause damage to the development of some brain functions;
- kids being distracted at school because of their smartphones (even to the point of being unable to hear or understand what the teacher is saying!)
- problems associated with multitasking and self perception – even though kids were performing worse and worse they were sure that they were actually doing well and even improving;
- parents and other relatives noticed many times that some kids almost literally turn into a different person while playing computer games;
- computer and video game violence and similar issues – it is interesting, that some kids think the video game experience is more important and relevant for their future than things like math or school in general.
Parental authority and the way you should assert it, especially in questions of screen time is another important topic of the documentary. This includes exploration of:
- the fact that today’s children tend to question their parents’ authority more than ever before (even taking into consideration that teens have always been famous for their rebellion)
- ways parents can better exercise authority by explaining rules in a way which makes sense to their children rather than relying on a “do it because I said so” approach which has become more ineffective than ever.
- the necessity to discuss and set rules, rewards and punishments together with the kids
While the movie does provide some answers and tools, it’s main call to action is an invitation for more dialogue. Watch it with your kids. Discuss the issues it raises with them. Discuss it with other parents and with teachers. Parenting screenagers is a relatively new challenge and the more we experiment and discuss what we find, the quicker we’re going to find effective ways to handle the problems it raises. The Screenagers documentary is a great place to begin that discussion.
Screen addiction: the Black Mirror lesson
Have you ever seen the British TV show “Black Mirror”? It’s a dark science fiction series (not family friendly), that examines modern society by looking at the unpredictable consequences of new technologies. Charlie Brooker created these satirical stories to highlight topics related to humanity’s dependence on technology and how it can negatively affect our near future. What I like most is that Brooker doesn’t neglect to talk about kids, at a time when children’s connection to smartphones, tablets and other devices is stronger than ever.
The dark tone of every episode instills us with a foreboding sense of the ease with which technology can influence every area of our lives, including our parenting. After watching these thought-provoking scenes, you’re hardly likely to ask yourself whether it’s good to give a device to your child or not. Instead you’ll be more likely to think about how to prevent device addiction and give your kid a happy childhood. Nowadays however, parents need to learn how to live in a world that is inseparable from screens..
Why this plot is crucial
As the mom of a 4-year-old daughter I would recommend all parents to watch the episode of “Black Mirror” called “Arkangel”, the first one to have a strong emphasis on family. In the story, “Arkangel” is the name of an implanted chip technology that allows parents to track and monitor their children, as well as pixelate images that would cause them distress. At first, it might bring to mind modern parental control software, but there’s more to it than that. To help me explain, let me give you a brief overview of the plot.
Single mother Marie has a daughter named Sara. The little girl goes missing one day, chasing a cat near the playground. Marie panics, but finds her girl shortly without incident. This leads her to implant Sara with Arkangel, an implant, which enables her to monitor the child’s geolocation and medical state, and control everything the child sees with the help of a tablet computer. At first it seems to be effective but it becomes a dangerous hindrance.
The story shows the chip destroying the relationship between mother and daughter and leading to a highly dysfunctional, even violent dynamic, despite starting from a natural parental desire to protect. Why might this happen? This is a very important question for me, as a parent, who uses a parental control app. But despite some apparent similarities I don’t think parental control apps are the nightmare tools of Brookers dystopia. In fact, I think this story can provide us with a great starting point for exploring what effective parental controls can and do really look like for the next generation of users.
Technology is not guilty. Marie is guilty
First of all, every viewer should know, that hyperbolising is the main feature of drama. Science fiction remains fiction. Real life can and will write another script. Secondly, while seatbelts seem to limit the drivers’ movement and freedom it also saves people’s lives.
Parents are those people who are responsible for the well-being and safety of their kids in the real and online world. On top of these responsibilities should lie healthy relationships between parents and children. The character Marie in Arkangel lied to her daughter from the very beginning, didn’t use the technology to teach good habits, modelled bad habits herself and ultimately abused her power over her daughter.
Parental controls are a tool. If they’re well made they can be a powerful tool. And like all powerful tools they can be used responsibly to create a good outcome or irresponsibly to create a bad outcome. In the story, hyperbole and dramatic license are used to take irresponsible parental control use to a dangerous extreme that in practice we just don’t see. Still, we can learn how to apply good practices to our parental control use to ensure even better outcomes.
The issue of “digital education” for children has proved to be one of those hot topics that divide parents into two opposed camps: one urges “for”, others are radically “against”. Moreover, such a “war” exists not only between parents, but also between experts, who give very controversial, and often completely opposite recommendations on the “proper use” of technology by children.
This situation leads to only one conclusion: digital education is necessary for both children and parents. The latest UNICEF “UReport” informs that a potential source of abuse of children’s data comes from their own parents. The survey found that 81 percent of children under age 2 in 10 high-income countries (Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States) had a digital footprint, meaning that they had a profile or images of them posted online.
Parents should provide a good example for kids about how to deal with devices. In Arkangel, the mother made many mistakes, including indulging in an unhealthy screen addiction of her own and some excessive helicopter parenting. Most of all though she needed to be open with her child about the information she had, the methods she was using and her reasons for using them. Discussion with kids about the effects of screen time and the reasons why you choose to place a limit (perhaps with the help of parental control app) are crucial to helping them build good habits of their own, which is ultimately our goal.
More and more research is being done into the effects of screen time and as more and more data becomes available expert groups around the world release and update new policies and guidelines to help us understand what’s best for our kids.
The American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) was the first, promoting the rule of “2×2”: “No screens for children up to two years old and no more than two hours with digital media for older children”. This rule was developed in a time primarily concerned with TV screen use. Today the consensus is that “screens are different”, i.e. rules suitable for limiting passive television viewing are not so relevant to the era of interactive tablets, smartphones, and computers.
A new version of AAP recommendations for preschoolers, released in October 2016, is no longer so categorical and unambiguous. The age requirement has plummeted from 24 to 18 months and video chat with relatives is allowed without reservations from the very moment of birth.
For children from 2 to 5 years of age, it is recommended to spend no more than one hour per day with a tablet, while parents are obliged to be very careful to fill the tablet – to choose applications and games with high production values and if possible genuinely educational content, according to the child’s age.
The guidelines for schoolchildren and teenagers say only that: “Parents should set a strict time limit for their child with digital devices.” It is not said what limits, so apparently at their own discretion. In this case, make sure that at least one hour per day the child is engaged in physical activity, does not get stuck on the screen during meals, and has at least an hour of “retreat” with all devices turned off before bed in order not to harm healthy sleep.
In addition to these recommendations, AAP offers each family to agree on a so-called “Family Media Plan“. It is so-called rules of conduct with devices: to indicate places in the house free of screens; to discuss situations suitable / not suitable for digital media; to promise each other to spend time together more often; not to abuse devices for entertainment and so on.
Not limits, but possibilities
The concept of “screen time” is very abstract and ambiguous, because it can be both harmful to the child’s activity, and useful. Parents need more qualitative public organizations like Common Sense Media (USA) or Parent Zone (UK) to appear. Such resources ought to be saved in the bookmarks and regularly checked by modern dads and moms. Secondly, they also offer practical tips, collections of useful apps, games, articles, and stories of real families about how to raise children in the Digital Era. And choose to prioritise being a friend to your child. Grow together in digital education and don’t forget to tell your child, why you’ve decided to use Kidslox. Safety is our first consideration. Be a modern parent. And draw the line between offline and online, especially for yourself.
Phone addiction and its effect on your life
Phone addiction is real. Today different experts the world over talk about nomophobia which is the irrational but still real fear of being without your smartphone or unable to use it when you want. According to Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, phone addiction is very similar to gambling addiction and does need our attention. And if you are addicted to your phone it’s not just about losing your time but moreover a risk of different physical problems which includes:
- The pain and discomfort in the eyes (especially when you are at the screen for more than 2 hours a day).
- Eye fatigue.
- Neck problems.
- Increased illnesses due to germs on the phone.
- Distraction from everyday’s life is another (and probably the biggest) harm the addiction to a smartphone can cause.
Am I addicted to my phone?
Genuine addiction to anything is obviously something to be avoided. Here check a few questions that can help you to understand whether excessive screen time is a problem issue for you or your child:
- Do you get nervous when can’t find your phone immediately? Does the discomfort continue until you find the phone?
- Are you constantly checking your mail, social media profile or messenger chat even when you’re not expecting a specific message or call? Do you do this even when someone in the same room is vying for your attention?
- Do you spend more time chatting on social media than face to face?
- Do you closely follow the latest news in mobile technology to ensure you have the latest devices, functionalities and fad apps?
- Do you find it uncomfortable to turn your phone off, even when the situation calls for it?
- Do you text or read your Facebook feed while driving? (obviously this one’s illegal and very dangerous – if you’re doing it, stop!)
- Do you ever bump into other people or objects because your nose is in your screen while you walk?
- Are you the “app king” among your friends? By which I mean that you regularly download a lot of new stuff (apps, pictures, tunes etc.) but don’t use them for long (in many cases opening just once) before searching for the next thing?
- Do you take the phone everywhere (including to bed and the bathroom) with you (and use it there)?
- Is your most commonly used word “Pardon?” or something equivalent, because your attention is on your phone?
Obviously, some of these scenarios are more serious indicators of a problem than others. If several of them ring true for you though, you might want to think about finding some way to monitor or limit the amount of time you put into your device.
Child screen addiction questions
If you’re thinking about the role of screen time in the life of your child, it might be worth adding a few child specific questions to the ones above:
- Do you find your child spending more time playing mobile games than anything else?
- Does the amount of time your child spends at a screen grow? Do they notice this?
- Is your child constantly talking about video games, mobile apps, and other on-screen content?
- Do you feel your child’s screen time affects their school productivity?
- Does your child keep a phone or computer in their room overnight? If so, are they frequently tired and could it be connected to late night screen use including message or game checking?
The hard slog
It’s not an easy task, in fact, it’s a real challenge of modern parenting to deal with phone addiction, but it’s a battle worth participating in for the sake of our kids. Use the resources available to you including the likes of CSM and other parenting services and forums as well as technological help from parental control software. Talk about the challenge with other parents you know, find out what they do and if there’s anything you could be doing together (eg. you take their kids for a (device free) day out one week, they yours the next). If you’ve got some advice from your own experience of fighting your family’s device addiction, tell us about it in the comments below.