Ever since mobile phones were invented parents have been concerned about their children, and rightfully so. Nowadays our everyday lives are tightly intertwined with our internet-enabled smartphones so it is easier than ever to get addicted, especially if you are a small impressionable child.
Of course, it is impossible to ban your children from using smartphones entirely since they will be at a disadvantage later on in life, however it is possible to find a balance and teach them how to use their device responsibly thus preventing addiction.
This article will provide you with several practical tips on how to prevent phone addiction among your children.
What are the telltale signs that your child is addicted to their mobile phone?
If your child is addicted to their smartphone they will display several of the following ''symptoms'' (for the lack of a better word).
The most obvious symptom is the amount of time they spend scrolling through their smartphone. If it is more than a couple of hours per day then you have a problem.
Children who are addicted to smartphones might also become very irritated and even aggressive when parents try to limit their screen time.
They typically do not want to go out or interact with their peers and are frequently postponing productive activities in order to spend more time on their phones.
Why is your child addicted to the phone?
The reasons may vary. Perhaps your child is bored with the everyday routine and is looking for a way to escape into the alluring world of fiction that the internet provides, or maybe they are dissatisfied with something in their lives and just do not want to face their problem.
Many children (and even adults) are struggling with a syndrome called FOMO (fear of missing out). It largely affects teenagers who want to keep up with their peers and are fearful of being left out of the latest developments within their friends' group.
Needless to say, all of this has a negative impact on your child’s mental as well as physical health. Children who are addicted to their smartphones tend to have behavioral problems and are more prone to obesity. You might have to end up referring to online psychology to help cope with your child's behavioural health matters.
So how can we protect our little ones from this affliction?
1. Create a phone-free area in your house.
One of the best ways you can reduce your child’s smartphone addiction is by selecting one area of the house where they spend a lot of time and declaring it a no-phone zone. It can be either the living room, the kitchen, or their bedroom.
It will be quite difficult at first to enforce this rule and don’t expect your child to give up without a protest. However, if you remain persistent at some point they will accept the new rule and it will become second nature to them.
Your child might start avoiding the no-phone zone so try to lure them in with various activities such as board games, a game of charades, reading a good book, a cook along, etc.
2. Lead by example.
Set a good example for your child and try to obey your own rules regarding the no-phone zone. Children typically want to imitate whatever their parents are doing so if you consistently follow your own restrictions there is a good chance they will do the same.
Not only will this reduce your child's reliance on their smartphone but it will also help you and your little one bond, spend more time together and get to know each other.
3. Use special apps to monitor your child's cell phone use.
There are special applications in the app store that can help you monitor your child’s daily cell phone use and even set a predetermined number of minutes they can use each application.
Almost all good smartphones nowadays come with some sort of parental control features. You can adjust the amount of time depending on your child’s daily needs and the applications will automatically stop working once the daily usage limit has been reached.
We have the best 5 parental control apps for your child's phone, see which one fits.
Parents can also monitor their children through their own smartphones by linking their own and their children’s accounts.
And one more thing to keep in mind, once they have reached their daily limit make sure that they are not using their siblings' phones or your phone.
If they get hold of your smartphone they may readjust and the daily limit without you knowing.
4. Get them involved in non-digital activities.
Parenting is hard, and after a full day at work/school and several hours spent doing homework, lying down on the sofa and simply scrolling through your phone for the rest of the day seems like a tempting proposition. However, this type of lifestyle will not benefit your child in the long run.
So try to get your children involved in non-digital activities. Read a good book together, go out for a picnic on a sunny day, go cycling, etc. Encourage them to take part in CCAs in school which are very important in Singapore.
Whatever you can do to distract them from the tiny shining screen.
5. Friends are powerful influencers.
Friends sometimes have a much bigger influence on children’s behavior than parents do. So try to use this fact to your advantage when it comes to cell phone addiction.
There are various social and sports clubs that offer engaging activities for children. Why not sign up your child for one of those. Making new friends there and engaging with them face-to-face without using their smartphone will definitely help your child curb their screen cravings.
Alternatively, your child can invite their friends over to their house to play on the condition that they will engage in activities that do not involve a smartphone.
In the end, simply using one of these techniques may not suffice.
Depending on the severity of your child’s cell phone addiction you might need to use several of these methods in combination to help them kick their addiction to the curb. It will require time and effort, but with persistence, you will succeed and your child will thank you in the end.