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ERROR 404: Screen Time Overload

Device breaks not found.

From square eyes to rectangular eyes.

‘Square eyes’ is a term humorously used to refer to the effects of spending too much time watching the television. It’s 2020 now and the television has largely been replaced by our little palm-sized devices – our phones! The vast majority of us reading this likely have access to a smartphone or two, and some of you may be reading this with your phones too – just like the citizens of Machiville in Out of Order.

In Out of Order, the citizens of Machiville spend their days using their phones. When it came to simple tasks like asking for directions, the citizens relied on their phones heavily. It didn’t occur to them that they could just ask other people, or easily read the signs for directions. Guess they forgot how to read an actual sign without the help of Google Maps, huh?

Let’s face it, we possess a limitless digital diet and sometimes, we crave for our phones more often than we should. We pick up our phones every other minute to check our e-mails, text our loved ones, watch a little funny video of a cat, the options are endless when it comes to our phones. Our children aren’t excluded from the advent of smartphones either.

According to the latest plano report, 97% of children aged 4 years or younger use mobile devices. Additionally, a study conducted in the U.S. presented that kids are spending over 30 hours a week on their phones. If children are being exposed to screens from the age of 4 and younger, imagine the extent of reach smartphones have today among children aged between 7 to 12? Social media sites like Instagram, Snapchat, and even TikTok draw our children in with a vast array of extensive content made available to them. From checking on their friend’s current whereabouts to finding out more about their favourite celebrity, social media sites have catalysed the rate of smartphone use among our little ones.

Breaking up with the screen.

But taking away the phone from our little ones can sometimes spell catastrophe – tantrums, cold shoulders, withdrawal symptoms, you’ve probably experienced the whole shebang. If your child exhibits signs and symptoms of excessive device use, try creating a conversation around their digital device use and understand where their impulses stem from. Is it an emotional trigger? Do they constantly feel the need to keep abreast of all the latest information in the name of peer pressure? Try to get them to look at other avenues to occupy their time. For instance, by attending an art class or picking up a new skill like dancing. Finding a new way to engage them can help keep their minds off their phones.

A digital detox can be unsettling for our digitally-wired children. However, just like how Nico Roboto hit the ‘Reset’ button in Out of Order to give the robots a break, we need to hit ‘Reset’ on our smartphone use too.

If you would like to purchase Out of Order or any of the other 4 books in The Plano Adventures book series, you may find them in Singapore at Kinokuniya, Times Bookstores, and at Popular. Alternatively, buy them online on Amazon or Book Depository

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