We sat down with Dr. Mike Bishop, tech addiction expert, to talk about kids’ technology addiction. Learn what red flags indicate that your child has screen time issues, how to develop positive screen time habits, and the importance of having a dialog between you and your children once they have their own device.
Listen along on our podcast
Technology Addiction Key Takeaways
- As parents, a major red flag to look out for is when your child starts passing up normal opportunities for socialization or outside play.
- If a child’s only interactions are through screen activities, they’re missing out on a ton of social learning opportunities.
- Not all screen time is equal. Kids are more engaged when they’re using an iPad, tablet, phone, or playing a video game than when they’re just watching a television show.
- Parents need to explain to their children the reasons why each screen time guideline is being set. If students don’t understand why they should not use something, then they’ll probably find a way to get around it.
How does Summerland Camps help children with technology addiction?
Summerland Camps has two locations; one in North Carolina and one in California. Whether it’s video games, overusing social media, or just basic internet browsing, Summerland Camps are for kids who have developed screen time behavior issues and need to learn how to find a healthy balance. We use a coaching approach. We get kids excited about their future and talking about goal-setting, which is a fantastic opportunity for kids who are having screen time problems.
What are some red flags that your child has screen time behavioral issues?
Short tempers that are aggravated by screen time
If your kids are playing video games, you can sometimes see them getting frustrated at the game. Watch out for a quick temper and see if the game has taken control over their mood. Kids are not able to self-soothe when they’re playing video games. This translates into the next point I have, which is problems going to sleep or waking up in the morning.
Having access to a device every night
If we let our kids use devices without setting limits, without some rules and structure, they take their devices to bed with them and they’re up at night browsing social media or playing games. Research shows that allowing your child to have a TV or device in their room unchecked at night results in less sleep and difficulty waking up in the morning.
Passing up face-to-face activities for screen time activities
Another major red flag is when you see your child passing up normal opportunities for socialization or outside play. There’s a lot of social learning that goes on with neighborhood pickup games. If a child’s only interactions are through screen activities, they’re missing out on a ton of social learning opportunities.
What are some common misconceptions parents have when it comes to screen time?
Remember, your kids are more engaged when they’re using an iPad, tablet, phone or playing a video game, than when they’re watching a television show. Research says kids with a TV in their room sleep less at night on average. They go to bed later and then they sleep later. The impact differs depending on which study you look at, but the overwhelming consensus in the scientific community is that having a screen in your child’s room when they should be asleep impacts sleep across the board. Some parents believe that the television will lull the child into going to sleep. When you look at the big picture, the costs outweigh the benefits of having a TV in your child’s room.
How can parents help their children develop positive screen time habits?
Children need limits when parents first introduce the device to them. How parents go about enforcing or explaining those limits is critical. Parents shouldn’t approach it from the authoritarian standpoint. Instead, they have to explain to the child why each guideline is being set. Develop that intrinsic motivation in the child to understand what the limits and dangers are. Help them understand the effect of screen activity on their sleep, grades, and overall brain development.
Why is it important to have a dialog with children once they have their own device?
Unfortunately, kids lack the ability to predict the consequences of their behavior. They don’t have the life experiences that we do as adults. Parents have to discuss the risks of social media and devices with their kids and help them understand. Explain to your student what can happen if they conduct themselves in a certain way, are in contact with certain people, or are looking at certain content.
Parents can break these down into the three C’s; inappropriate conduct, inappropriate contact, and inappropriate content. Explain the differences between each, why each one presents its own hazards, and what could happen.
What are “The Three C’s”?
The first one is conduct. Kids are not as anonymous as they think they are online. Sometimes kids start sharing memes or creating fake accounts on Instagram and think that no one will find out. Students don’t understand there are serious consequences for this type of conduct. They can get in some real trouble and these kinds of things don’t go away.
The second one is inappropriate contacts. This one’s pretty straightforward for most kids. There are people out there with bad intentions, like an online bully in their school. Through trolling, they can make an identity of someone else and make fun of them. There are also real sexual predators out there online, looking for kids to victimize.
The third one is inappropriate content, such as online pornography and violent websites. Parents have to explain to their children the dangers of this type of content. Teach kids that they need to nourish their brain with healthy images, instead of spending their time looking at negative content online.
What advice do you have for parents of children who have their own device?
If parents take anything away from this conversation, it should be that they really need to explain to their kids the reason why there are limits. Whether it’s with time, with who to contact, or the websites and apps children use. Parents have to explain why that is so that kids can comprehend and value these guidelines. If students don’t understand why they should not use something, then they’ll probably find a way to get around it.
Even though screen time can sometimes have a positive impact on students, it’s important to keep an eye out for technology addiction red flags. Some red flags that can indicate your child is struggling with too much screen time are short tempers that are aggravated by screen time, passing up face-to-face activities for screen time activities, and having access to their devices at night.
You can help your children develop positive screen time habits by setting limits, explaining why each guideline is being set, and discussing the negative impact excessive screen time can have on them. Help your children understand the consequences of having poor conduct on social media, connecting with strangers online, and viewing dangerous or inappropriate content. The most important thing to remember when working with your children is to explain the why. This helps them understand and value your guidelines.