Children, as well as adults, spend too much time with smartphones and tablets. Who can blame them? Sometimes it turns out to be “far too much time” and a habit turns into an addiction. In fact, a recent survey found that almost half of parents feel that their offspring are “addicted” to smartphones and tablets. In addition, one in three parents admitted spending too much time in front of screens.
What the science says
It has been suspected for a long time, but scientific studies have confirmed it: Intensive media use can lead to developmental disorders in children. The result is alarming.
The researchers came to the conclusion that feeding and falling asleep disorders can occur in infants if the parents use digital media at the same time during childcare. A significant correlation can be established here.
Harmful consequences have also been demonstrated in daycare children. 70 percent of them played with their parents' smartphones for more than half an hour a day. This could lead to motor hyperactivity, concentration disorders, and speech development disorders. The children are restless and easily distracted.
Signs of digital addiction in children
First of all, look for clues that suggest that the child is immersed in the digital world and is beginning to lose touch and interest in the real world. In extreme cases, it avoids face-to-face encounters with friends and instead prefers to chat with them via messenger and social networks.
Living in the virtual world can lead to difficulties in a child's social life outside of their home. Therefore, parents should observe whether a child distances himself from his fellow human beings. While time is not the only indicator to consider. Nevertheless, it is very easy to predict whether a child spends too much time in digital networks and whether they will become dependent on technology.
Tips for a digital detox in children
Communication with the child should always be maintained. Children quickly become defensive if their parents suggest that they spend too much time in front of mobile devices. Even if they already know more about the digital world than their parents do, they shouldn't be left alone and given behavioral help.
Just like in the real world, children need guidance from their parents in cyberspace. Grown-ups should maintain the dialogue with the children and initially explore the digital world together. This includes having children talk to their friends about it at school.
Building a relationship of trust is also crucial. Parents should behave in such a way that children automatically see them as a trusted people. Self-praising behavior towards the child damages the relationship and children then prefer to turn to someone else or even withdraw.
Withdrawing a child's mobile device should only be a last resort if you feel it is overused. Instead of complete withdrawal, there are other practical measures, such as turning off app notifications. This way the child will look at the mobile phone less often over time. One step further is to uninstall certain apps so that the child can no longer use them.
For smaller children, we recommend the use of parental control. With these tools, you can not only protect children from harmful content but also create activity logs and decide which application can be used when.
Last but not least, you should plan breaks from digital devices. A week or a weekend without a smartphone or tablet can be a real enrichment for the family - for children and parents. Anyone who opts for this "digital detox" should make appropriate preparations in advance. For example, you can tackle long-planned activities such as wilderness trips or amusement parks visits.