04 October 2017
The world has become increasingly inclined to technology, which means when people fail to ‘get with the times’ they end up being ignorant about current trends. Fortunately (or unfortunately), this new development has also attracted kids, which leaves a big question on the minds of any well-meaning parent: How can I protect my kids in this digital era? Better still, how can I save them from digital addiction?
Before we talk about how you can play a role in saving your kids from digital addiction, let’s take a look at what having this addiction can do to your child:
- Your child becomes anti-social, as he or she eventually prefer to spend time with the screen instead of with family, classmates or friends
- Your child may become increasingly aggressive whenever he or she does not have access to digital media and may throw tantrums until his or her demands are met
- The likelihood of your child becoming secretive increases, as he or she may not want to involve you in what he or she is doing on the screen
- Your child ends up wasting time as he spends a large amount of time with digital media instead of engaging in healthy and productive activities such as reading, sports etc.
- There’s a gradual reduction in your child’s attention span, as he or she becomes so used to focusing on the screen and not on other stuff like school
According to nypost.com, “iPads, smartphones and Xboxes are a form of a digital drug. Recent brain imaging research is showing that they affect the brain’s frontal cortex — which controls executive functioning, including impulse control — in exactly the same way that cocaine does.”
That’s quite alarming, isn’t it? Well, what can you as a parent do?
Be a good example
One of the greatest ways to save your kids from digital addiction is by making sure you as a parent are not addicted yourself. Kids tend to pick up habits from their parents and this could be good or bad. Although you are encouraging your kids to keep their digital activities to the barest minimum, are you as a parent taking your own advice? Take a minute to think about that!
Let your kids know the era they are in and the dangers of digital addiction
Granted, digital media has its advantages, but for kids, the disadvantages are more and have greater consequences. You need to establish a relationship with your kids where you often have ‘real chats’ with them about the issues of life, including the use of digital media. You need to be honest with them and let them understand why you as a parent do not encourage excessive use of digital media for activities such as playing games, chatting with friends, watching videos etc. more often than not, when kids understand why they should not do something, it is much easier for them to obey.
Engage your child in mind-building activities
that are not necessarily digitally inclined.
For instance, instead of a construction game on the internet, why not encourage your kids to stimulate their creativity with constructive games like Lego? Or why not try giving your kids colourful game books that contain crossword puzzles, Sudoku etc. to keep your kids interested in learning whilst being entertained in a healthy way? The digital media could be used as an occasional reward but not a major way of letting your kids while away time.
Make a conscious effort to let your kids feel loved
Kids tend to shut everyone out when they feel they are not loved or wanted. As a result of feeling this way, some turn to digital media for comfort, which should not be the case. This could be avoided when you as a parent place a lot of premium on family values such as unity, honesty, humour, love etc. Chances are when your kids have the love and warmth they need, they won’t see the need to turn to digital media for the attention they need.
In as much as you may be making a conscious effort to save your kids from digital addiction, you can never be too careful. Always keep your eyes open to easily detect any changes in your child, no matter how subtle. It is often easier to curb the addiction when it is spotted in time.
The term ‘digital’ is here to stay. However, the effect it has on your kids be it good or bad can be controlled by you. As a parent, influence the all-around growth of your kids. It’s far safer to prevent your kids from getting there in the first place than to get them out when they get in too deep. Like they always say, “Prevention is better than cure!”