David Greenfield, a psychiatrist at the University of Connecticut and founder of the Center for Internet and Technology Addiction said recently,
“When we’re engaged in these digital technologies we’re not doing other things that may be important for our lives, whether it is exercise, socializing or work”
He calls the smartphone as the “smallest slot machine in the world”. This is due to its psychological reinforcement effects on our children. You might have noticed that our kids are happier when they receive a reward notification on their tabs or smartphones. It is like carrying a mini casino in their pockets.
Recent news of game fevers like Blue Whale game or Pokémon Go has added more weight to the argument of increasing addiction of our children with their smartphone.
Various antidotes to this addiction had to be applied to the one used by a school in DC but parents have to be vigilant if they see their kids moving into addiction.
How to identify smartphone addiction?
The line between the overuse of smartphone and addiction is gray. Kids are said to be addicted if they cannot stop using the device even when it’s harming their lives. If you can’t control them then that is the hallmark of addiction. You have to observe how your kids feel when these devices are not there. If they feel anxious, irritable, and uncomfortable then this is a red flag. That ever-increasing desire for a “dose” of smartphone is similar to the substance abusers who develop tolerance to drugs or alcohol.
These are five defining criteria of a smartphone addict:
- Using smartphone device to alter your moods. Especially to counter negative emotions.
- Your kid’s degree of tolerance is increasing as much as he uses it.
- Your kids feel “withdrawal”; a king of discomfort due to the absence of phone.
- Feeling of being preoccupied with the phone even when they are not using it.
The Antidotes to Smartphone Addiction
Formulate a code-of-conduct:
Make a contract for your kids. It must have a code-of-conduct. They must adhere to it in any case. The contract should include all the rules of its use. You cannot allow your kid to use it all day all night long. Kids sometimes keep playing games in the name of homework. Parents must keep an eye on their use. The code-of-conduct contract stipulations should be like:
- I acknowledge that having a cell phone is a privilege and will not take it for granted.
- I will protect my privacy and will not give my cell phone number to anyone with whom I am not familiar.
- I will always answer calls from my parents. If I miss a call from them, I will call them back immediately.
- I will be completely open with you in terms of how I am using it, what I am communicating and what others are communicating to me.
- I will not download anything from the Internet or call toll numbers without my parents’ permission.
- I will not take, send or post any pictures or videos of anyone without my parents’ and the person’s permission.
- I will pay for any charges above and beyond the usual monthly fee.
- I will not bring my cell phone to school if it is prohibited. Or if it is allowed at school, I will keep it in my backpack and turned off until school is dismissed.
- I will not use my cell phone after pm on a school night or after pm on a non-school night, unless given permission by my parents.
- I will not send inappropriate, hurtful or threatening text messages.
- I will not say or text anything that I wouldn’t say in person with my parents listening.
- I will not enable or disable any setting on my phone without my parents’ permission.
- I will not be disruptive in my cell phone use and will end a call or stop texting when asked.
Use a Parental Control App:
Even if you have signed a contract with your kids they will find ways to skillfully compromise it. The most potent yet easiest remedy to cure the smartphone addiction in your kids is by using a parental control app. They are packed with ample features that can help cure this habit without any disagreements between you and your kid.
All you need to do is install the app on their smartphone and monitor their activity online. If you feel your kid is spending a lot of time on games or certain apps then you can simply block them by using their app blocking feature. By using this app, you need not snatch their phones away, you can schedule times of the day during which they can access their apps or browse the internet.
Limit your cell phone use:
You must have seen a few parents who are always on the phone. They sleep with their phones on the bedside. Even bring them on dining tables and sometimes in bathrooms as well. You are a mirror to your kids. They will imitate your every move. If you are addicted to it then there is no way you can stop your kids from being addicted to these devices. So limit your use of cell phones in front of kids. You can set your own schedule and it will be better if you use your phone when the kids are not around. Spare your time to interact more with your kids. The more you spend time with them the less time they would get to waste their time on smartphones.