There’s a new term, ‘screenager’, gaining ground these days. It pertains to children, teens rather, who not only have an aptitude for computers and technology but also spend inordinate amount of time in front of their computer or mobile device screens. So much so that it can be called ‘device addiction’. This is a challenge every parent is facing now—even toddlers seem to know how to swipe and unlock iPhone screens these days! Of course you want your child to spend less time in front of the computer or smartphone screens and focus more on physical activities and one-on-one social interactions. Experts recommend the following steps to control device addiction:
Parents need to be role models: Well, you have to set an example yourself first. When you are with children, try to spend as little time as possible looking at your own mobile or laptop screens.
Stop gifting devices: Ideally, toddlers or even 10-year-olds wouldn’t need personal smartphones. Your child might throw tantrums, for getting a gadget of his or her own, thanks to peer pressure. But don’t let pester power win all the time.
Set limits: That’s another way of weaning children off device obsession. Fix specific times for playing games or surfing internet. Make it clear that they shouldn’t be using devices while eating meals or while doing their homework.
Child mode: Some mobile devices offer options such as ‘Kids Mode’ or ‘Child Mode’. With the latter, parents can control apps and monitor how their children use mobile devices. By switching this option on your device via ‘Settings’, you can give your child an interface that can be filled with educational apps or games.
Pep talk: Hold discussions with your child from time to time about the use and abuse of mobile devices. Don’t admonish. Gently inform them why being glued to mobile screens is not cool.