It’s become increasingly normal for young children to use technological devices, like tablets and phones. They can watch TV, play video games, and read books all from one device in the palm of their hand. While these devices are great for distracting the kids on a long flight or a rainy afternoon, they can lead to long-term complications.
Children are spending more time on digital screens, with 28% of kids and teens saying they feel addicted to video games. Those between the ages of 8 and 28 spend around 44.5 hours each week on a digital screen – equating to more hours per week than the average full-time job.
It’s easy to develop an addiction to technology from a young age. Most of our homes are filled with technology, and it’s unrealistic for children to avoid tech devices completely. Parents should aim to limit their little one’s screen time to minimise any potential risks.
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You could reserve the TV for night-time and try to limit your scrolling time when the kids are around. Small lifestyle changes can help them to see how we can use technology in a healthy way.
If you have an older child, you may start to notice they are struggling to focus on school and navigate social interactions. They may be spending too much time online or even get agitated when interrupted online. Children can start to lose interest in their other hobbies and prioritise their time online over everything else. This is a sign your child is addicted to technology and developing an unhealthy relationship with the internet.
Children are more likely to fall for scams and buy things online that they shouldn’t be. A prepaid debit card can limit their spending while still allowing them to use online shopping. You can also block pages they shouldn’t be looking at. Overspending online could have huge consequences for your family’s finances.
Social media can be particularly damaging for children. Social media platforms can expose children to unrealistic expectations for their appearance, social life, future career and much more. They can also share personal information on social media and easily communicate with strangers. Parents should closely monitor their children’s social media accounts and look out for any warning signs of cyber bullying. While it may look like they are just chatting with classmates online, direct messaging can quickly turn sour. Cyberbullying can be concealed online, so parents and teachers may not see it in real life. Look out for the signs and watch your child’s social accounts.
Furthermore, extended use of technology can eventually lead to health problems. Children should be running around outside with their friends to stay physically and mentally healthy. Sitting down with a laptop all day while snacking high-calorie snack food can lead to obesity. Encourage your children to take time away from their screens every day to sit down and eat healthy meals. You should also enforce a bedtime routine to stop them from binging TV all night long or playing video games.
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A good night’s sleep can improve their mood, energy and focus the next day. Mental illness is a common side effect of an addiction to technology. Children can develop depression, anxiety, and attention problems from a very early age.
Help your child find the balance between an unhealthy addiction to technology and utilising the benefits of the digital world.