The average child spends six to seven hours each day looking at a screen. Almost a third of their days are taken up with activities like messaging their friends, playing games online, and getting deep into the murky worlds of Snapchat, Instagram, and TikTok.
Screen addiction is an increasingly common phenomenon amongst adults and children alike, and it can have disastrous effects on one’s health. It can impair concentration and memory, making it harder for your little one to do well in school. Spending too much time on social media can also cause feelings of stress, and eventually lead to problems like anxiety and depression. It even has physical effects too, worsening eyesight and causing physiological issues like “text neck” and poor posture.
It’s clear that you shouldn’t let your child become addicted to technology, but it’s becoming harder and harder for parents to prevent it. As a society, we are becoming increasingly reliant on our phones for many day-to-day tasks, and your young child will be particularly susceptible to peer pressure from friends with the latest iPhones. But there are ways for parents to balance the benefits of technology with the many risks.
Here are three tips to prevent screen addiction in your children.
Set an example
When it comes to screen time, adults are often worse than children. And if your son or daughter sees you spending your evenings scrolling aimlessly through Twitter, they will think this kind of behavior is OK. Make sure you lead by example and limit your own screen use, particularly around your child. Encourage screen-free times as a family where you engage in more wholesome analog activities like playing board games or going for walks.
Buy the right phone
When your child goes off to school, there’s a good chance you will want them to have a phone for your own peace of mind. This way you always have an avenue of communication with them. But the minute you send them off to school with a brand new smartphone, they will immediately start down the rabbit hole of social media and brain-rotting internet usage. Fortunately, there are several child-friendly phones that have basic functionality and don’t allow for online browsing or downloading unnecessary apps. Click here to browse kids’ cell phone plans.
Promote healthy habits
Simply not letting your child use their phone is not going to be particularly effective. Making screen time a taboo will only make them want to use it more. Instead, you want them to not care about using their phones. They should see phones as a necessary tool for making calls and texts, not as a magical entertainment system. The best way to do this is by encouraging them to enjoy more wholesome, healthy activities. Buying them books from an early age will help them to cultivate a love of reading and they will grow up to be more intelligent and curious. Take them outside for walks and bike rides and help them appreciate the world beyond their smartphone screens.