The primary purpose of any gadget is to make our life easier. For sure, gadgets like tablets and smartphones have made our lives simpler, but we can not disagree with the fact that more and more children are getting addicted to these devices. As parents, we often complain about our child’s addiction to screens. We worry that this may be damaging to their physical and mental health but are unable to get them to stop using these gadgets. Let us look closer into the various aspects of this addiction that is turning out to be the biggest problem that our children are facing in the 21 Century.
Why are our children getting addicted to gadgets?
For most of the children in the present generation, the exposure to gadgets starts too early. Many children learn to operate the smartphones before they learn how to walk. Children as young as two tend to spend more time in front of the television or tablets, than the real world.
- Have you ever given your smartphone to your child to stop him from bothering you at a restaurant or while you are driving? If the answer is yes, then you are guilty of encouraging this addiction.
- Often parents find it easier to hand over a tablet or a smartphone to their children to keep themselves entertained than to indulge in them.
- For teenagers being a part of the social networking world is a must. Peer pressure has most teenagers continually checking their Facebook and Instagram accounts. The number of likes they get on their posts directly affects their self-esteem.
- Many teenagers these days find it easier to voice their opinion online than face to face. Often you will notice the quietest kid in the neighbourhood is the most active on social networks.
Why are gadgets bad for children?
Constant exposure to gadgets is severely affecting our children. There has been a lot of research on the negative impact of gadgets, and the results are alarming. Here are some of the reasons we should keep our kids away from gadgets.
- Human brain sees maximum growth in the first five years. These are the years when a child should be exposed to a variety of different stimuli. Overexposure to gadgets can cause attention deficit, cognitive delays and impaired learning.
- Children who spend their play time on their gadgets instead of the playground are at high risk of obesity. This can further lead to health issues like childhood diabetes.
- Children addicted to gadgets can develop aggressive behaviour. They are more likely to throw temper tantrums if their demands are not met. Some of the children even start emulating the character of the video games they play.
- Exposure to screens also affects the eyesight of children. They also have more difficulty concentrating in school.
- Overexposure to gadgets also hurts children’s ability to form deep and meaningful associations. You can not have true friends if you do not interact with them on a one to one basis.
- More and more young children and teens are suffering from sleeping disorders nowadays. This is the direct result of exposure to the blue light emitted by the gadget screens.
Now that we are aware of the various ill effects of gadget addiction in our children, it brings us to our next question:
How can we get rid of gadget addiction in our children?
Set a good example
Children tend to emulate their parents. Don’t expect your children to give up their devices if you can’t do the same. Set a good example. Put away your phone when you come back from office if you want the full attention of your kids.
Make firm rules
Make some new house rules. No gadgets on the dining table or no gadgets at least one hour before sleep. You will find some harsh reactions to these rules initially, but they will work out in the long run.
- Also read: How much sleep do I need?
Encourage your kids to play some sport. Join them in a game of football or cricket on the weekends. Enrol them with some sports club, and you will see the difference.
Set a time limit
Set a limited time for TV or iPad. Enforce this rule strictly and do not be soft. Over a period, children will themselves become responsible and follow the schedule set by you.
Join a library
Take the membership of a local library. Encourage them to read. Discuss the various books and authors with your children.
Create gadget-free zones
Create gadget-free zones in the house. The dining room is one such area where no phones should be allowed. Encourage your children to talk and share their experiences of the day while you eat together.
Do creative activities with your children. Bake a cake or paint together. It will help you bond and wean your child away from the virtual world.
Plan a gadget-free outing
Plan a picnic or even a dinner where no one (not even the parents) should take a phone with them. Try it. You will realise that it is a very liberating experience.
Over to you
Try and follow these steps to wean your child away from a gadget addiction. However, introduce these measures gradually to avoid an extreme reaction. Stay positive and be patient. Any big task takes time and so will this. As a parent, you must put your child on the right path. So, go on and get cracking. All the best!