We all want the best for our kids, but sometimes it’s hard to know where to start. With so much going on in today’s age it often feels as though we have to be super vigilant to make sure our kids stay safe and healthy. We as parents have lots to worry about and smartphone addiction is just another concern to add to the list.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. There are plenty of ways to prevent the onset of smartphone addiction- it’s just about knowing where to start.
As a mother of two nine-year-old daughters I know how hard it can be to get them to do the right thing. Growing up, all our parents had to care about was stopping us from getting our hands on too many sweets. This was relatively simple as they had control over which foods they brought into the house.
These days, keeping our kids away from things that are potentially addictive is much harder. Smartphones provide access to an endless source of entertainment for kids; millions upon millions of games to play, videos to watch, and apps to download. It’s sometimes hard to know where to set the boundaries- a challenge that our parents never had to deal with. If you’re looking to prevent smartphone addiction in your household but can’t ask your parents for advice, check out these three tried-and-tested rules that can help you get your kids off their screens.
3 rules for tackling smartphone addiction:
1. Be patient.
Getting your kids to change an unhealthy habit is never easy and never a quick fix. Remember it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Take baby steps and introduce small changes every day. Suggest going for a five minute walk or ask them to help chop some vegetables for dinner. Nothing too hefty; just enough to give them a small break- this way they are less likely to notice that any change is taking place at all.
2. Swap it, don’t stop it.
As you probably know already, kids don’t respond very well to being told they can’t do something. Instead, focus on what they can do. Suggest an alternative so that they don’t feel like they are giving something up- rather just swapping it for something else. You can swap screen-time for other fun activities like playing sport, learning a musical instrument or trying a new skill like cooking or arts and crafts!
A great app that can help with this is plano. plano is a parental control app which runs in the background of your child’s smartphone and sends them reminders to take breaks and limit their screen time. If your child follows these reminders, he/she can earn points that can be used to request items and activities like scooters and martial arts classes in the plano Shop. This can encourage them to engage in more device-free activities even when you’re not around!
By swapping screen-time with other activities, your child will learn to associate time spent off their phone with the positive outcome of a reward, helping them to develop a healthy and positive relationship with technology.
3. Don’t forget to talk to your kids
This is something us parents often forget to do. You never know, they might even be on board with the idea! Studies have found that talking to your child is the best way to identify and understand their needs. You can use this to shape the way you regulate their smartphone habits in a more personalized and effective way. Sit down with them and create a schedule for when they can use their smartphones and when they can do other things.
Why is this important?
You may be asking yourself at this point; but surely a few minutes here and there on a smartphone can’t be too bad for my child? That’s certainly how I used to feel. But did you know that smartphones can be just as addictive as smoking? It can affect the same parts of the brain that smoking does.
Aside from the stats though, I know that as a parent, I personally want my daughters to grow up excited by the real world- not the virtual world on their smartphones. I want them to sing, dance, run around and develop the skills to learn these things- something you can’t always learn on a screen.