Unlike driving, there’s no set age for kids to start having access to a mobile phone phone. The age at which parents hand a phone over to them will depend on their child’s maturity. But even the most responsible child can fall into screen addiction if not guided on how to use it healthily.
Here are some screen addiction facts :
- American Teenagers receive their first smartphones at the age of 10
- spend an average of 4.5 hours a day on it (excluding texting and talking times)
- 78 percent of teens check their phones at least hourly, with half reporting they feel “addicted” to their phones
- Kids who spent three hours or more a day on smartphones or other electronic devices were 34% more likely to suffer at least one suicide-related outcome (journal Clinical Psychological Science,)
If your kids are in the age group where they will soon be getting a smartphone then here are a couple of tips to stop them from getting addicted :
1. Set priority
When your child comes home from school, they need to rest, do their homework, play outdoors, etc. All chores need to be completed before any screen time
2. Set a screen time limit.
Screen time is defined by the amount of time they spend online on entertainment purposes. This does not include screen time for doing homework or research.
It is difficult to determine what is the right amount of screen time. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) children older than 6 years old should be limited to 2 hours of screen time a day or less.
There are different apps that can help you parents to control screen time by locking your kids phone during certain hour of the day, for instance bed time or dinner time.
If they are watching TV then use a physical alarm clock and set the timer on. Once it goes off your kids know that their time is up. This way you avoid arguing or negotiating for more screen time with your children.
3. Uninterupted family time.
Children will model their parents behavior. If parents keep checking on their phone then children are more likely to follow the same pattern.
Create a family phone box where during certain hours all devices will be kept in the box. For instance, during dinner or family time. This will help parents control the urge to keep checking on their notifications and lead a good example for their children.
4. Engage with your children
If you already have gadgets like Alexa at home then your children might get used too getting answers instantly. Kids also seem to rely on devices like Ipads and Google to entertain them.
Depending on what your kids search for online, Google might not always come up with the best solution to their questions. It might lead them to sites that may not be appropriate for their age group.Don’t let Alexa parent your child.
Talk to your children often and let them know that Mum and Dad can also be a source of wisdom. It is important for your child to know that parents are their trusted problem solvers and not Alexa or Google.
5. Charge your kids devices in your room
When it is bed time, take the phone away and charge it in your bedroom. Devices kept in their room might disrupt their sleep. Remove the source of temptation and let them have a good night sleep.
If you are in Scotland and would like to host a parent workshop or want me to speak at your kids school then get in touch with me.
Technology is not necessarily bad as long as we teach our children to use it in a healthy and responsible way. Guide your child not just in the real world but also in the virtual one. By doing so you will help them gather the skills and habits to become responsible digital citizens.
Here are other tips to you keep children safe in the digital age :
3 simple ways to keep children safe online