Is your child addicted to technology? Not sure how to pry that iPad out of his hand? Hard to get her to set down that phone during dinner? This info will help!
Results from a new study about teens, phones, and happiness were released on March 24. The study observed more than a million 8th, 10th, and 12th grade American teens. Not surprisingly, it found the happiest teens spent the least amount of time on devices.
Technological addiction has become a huge problem for my generation. It’s rare to find a teen who doesn’t have a phone (like me). Kids of all ages, even down to toddlers, use devices several hours each day and as this study shows, the results aren’t good.
Let’s be totally honest here, technology isn’t bad. I used a computer to write this article. You are reading this article on a device. Technology can be a great tool. But when it gets out of hand, things don’t go well. Studies have linked excessive screen time to anxiety, distractiveness, fatigue, stress, and even depression.
As a teen myself, I know how hard it can be to use technology wisely. It takes a lot of fortitude to resist temptations to check social media or waste time when I’m supposed to be working on something else. It doesn’t take much for technology to get out of hand.
But there is still hope. It may not be easy, it will take time, but it is possible to reform our approach to technology in the home. It is possible to make technology work for us and live happily free of its hold.
As you know, deciding how to handle technology in your home is no easy task. There are many factors to be considered, and often, finding balance is a battle. Not only is it important to make sure what your kids do on devices is good, but probably just as important to their health and happiness is when you allow them to do those things.
Staring at a screen for a long time can wear out your eyes, lead to nearsightedness and even migraines. Bad posture when using a phone can leave you with neck, back, and wrist pain. Having a phone in your bedroom can hinder you from being fully rested because of the electromagnetic frequency fields and blue light.
The less time your kids spend in front of screens the better, but what’s good for one family may not work for another. Take some time to evaluate your family’s use of technology and decide if it is reasonable or should be adjusted. You need to decide on what’s best for your family, and once you do, stick to it!
Fight for Their Happiness
Your kids probably will not like the changes you make at first. They might accuse you of being mean or overly-protective. But likely the more they complain and louder they yell, the more clear and urgent it is that you get them off technology.
The worse their addiction is, the greater the need for change will be and the harder it will be to change. You are going to have to use tough love, and sometimes it won’t be fun. In the end they will be happier, but getting there is the rub.
Regulate technology cut back at a slow, but steady rate. It could be an addiction you’re dealing with. If you take away all technology, all at once, there are going to be massive repercussions. Make changes gradually, in small, yet steady adjustments. And as you do that, be ready to help your kids through the side effects along the way.
Work together as a family to fight technological addiction and find ways to best make technology work for you. Have intentional conversations with you kids about happiness and technology. Show them the data. Explain the reasons for your concern. You might be surprised the difference it can make! But remember, whether your child agrees about the necessity of change or not, it will still be extremely hard for them to adjust.
Encourage Independence from Technology
There’s a lot more to the world than technology! But when kids are on technology 24/7, they hardly realize this fact. Most kids spend the day in their room with a phone and don’t get outside or interact with others much. But they don’t realize what they’re missing out on!
According to the study, “There was a notable increase in overall life satisfaction for students who participated in more extracurricular activities or sports, as well as those who read actual print publications more frequently.”
Simply taking the time to do fun, educational, character building, activities together as a family could be the best thing to help your kids curb technological addiction and cultivate a creative, independent, positive mindset.
No amount of guilt trips and arguments will make nearly as much of a difference as simply helping your child experience the vastly exciting, increasingly intriguing, amazing world that God made…the world beyond the screen.
When you get outside more, do things together, encourage creativity, have adventures, read rich books, and have deep conversations, your kids will be much happier and less likely to feel as if they’ve somehow been robbed when you won’t let them spend all day staring at a screen. When you know the truth that technology is not everything, it is freeing.
Technological addiction is a lie. It promises more than it really gives and leaves you empty inside. But God gives something better. He offers true happiness, and never cheats you or lies. Fighting technological addiction is not a lost cause. It is possible to make technology work for you and live happily free of its hold. After all, all things are possible with God! Don’t give up on your kids.
Tina’s recommendation for a great book which talks about how to set house guidelines regarding technology and flashy devices is called “Parent Chat: The Technology Talk for Every Family” by Matt McKee. If you want to help your child be a mature, self motivated, responsible, happy kid, helping them to become independent of technology will be a huge step in the right direction. The less time your kid spends on a device, and the more time they spend using their head and hands, the happier and healthier they will be.
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Courtney Peetz is the contributing writer for this article. She is a young writer living in North Carolina and founder of American Christian Beliefs Political Army of Kids.