More and more children and teenagers are seeking professional help from psychologists due to problems with cognitive abilities and attention. Today, many of those issues are the result of spending a lot of time using smartphones. Although this type of entertainment seems benign to many parents – the fact is that many of them later face serious problems with their children. So how to recognize the signs, face the problem – and what exactly to do when you notice your child’s addiction to a smartphone? Here are some possible solutions.
What Is Phone Addiction?
Today, access to a smartphone can make life much easier by making various information accessible to us. However, every convenience has its price. These devices are carefully designed so that they are sometimes simply difficult to dispose of. Thanks to its applications, colors, sounds, and vibrations – the technology deliberately maintains the need for constant engagement. Therefore, we are often facing a phenomenon that we call smartphone addiction. Unfortunately, children and teenagers, who are increasingly using these smart devices, are particularly exposed to this. Chronic phone use is a recently determined form of addiction. Some psychiatric associations do not even officially recognize this condition. However, many medical experts and researchers around the world recognize it as addictive behavior. According to several studies, intensive use of smartphones can change and negatively affect an individual over time. Experts claim that the effects on the psyche are similar to those that occur due to gambling addiction – and it can be especially dangerous for our kids.
How to Recognize Phone Addiction?
Phone addiction is an obsessive use of a smartphone. There are almost 4 billion smartphone users in the world. The rise in phone use seems like a natural need for modern life, but it is also a cause for concern. Extensive use of these devices puts consumers in a position where the phone is an indispensable and essential need and can be addictive, especially for the youngest. So how do you recognize when children’s cell phone use has crossed the line and become a serious threat to their mental health? These are the things you can do if you are worried about your kids’ cell phone addiction.
1. Monitor your children’s behavior
In practice, we see more and more children who show problems with cognitive abilities and attention – but also those who suffer from depression and lack of empathy – psychologists claim. These are just some of the consequences of the excessive use of new technologies – especially mobile phones. Today, more and more children under the age of seven or eight are facing the problem of cell phone addiction. That number, according to what is visible in practice, has increased in the past two years – due to the pandemic that kept us all in our homes. Parents often allowed more to their children than usual. Therefore, it is necessary for parents to monitor the child’s development and to notice when the children have crossed the line of the game – and entered the dangerous zone of phone addiction.
2. Use technology as an ally in the fight against this problem
While this may sound like a paradox to many parents – technology is sometimes a great ally in the fight against itself. Many applications that you can use to keep track of your children and what they do on the phone – will help you with that. You can check this out, and see that there is also software that can show you in real-time what your child is doing on the phone, who he is communicating with – as well as how much time he spends on the phone, social networks, etc. Of course, there are also geolocation options, so you can know where your child is at any time. Such software can even help you block certain pages, but also have access to photos, videos, or chat monitoring. And the best thing of all, it limits the use of mobile applications – so you can simply limit the time for children’s use of the phone. In this way, you fight technology by using technology – and protect your children from excessive phone use.
3. React when you spot your child has no activities other than the phone
When parents see that the child has no other activities, that they refuse to play with their peers, to go outside – they should be alarmed that something is wrong and that their habits should be changed as soon as possible. However, occupied with their obligations, adults often overlook that moment and do not react in time – and then the problem deepens so professional help is needed. Therefore, react in time, when you notice the first changes in your child. Of course, the first step in combating the problem of the new age is to limit children’s use of mobile phones. With smaller children, confiscating a mobile phone often has an aggressive response. They need to explain the harmful effects of telephones and computers. This requires the engagement of parents who will show them by personal example that there are some better and more useful activities. Walking, socializing, family conversations, and mutual commitment in the family are necessary to reduce the time spent at the computer or phone.
4. Make a plan that gives results
There are many parents who, when they realize that their child has become addicted to a mobile phone – decide to take a radical step by completely taking away their favorite “toy”. According to psychologists, such a thing is not possible in the time we live in. Kids will always find a way to use their favorite devices somehow. However, there is a solution to the problem that many families face today. Simply make a good plan and rules under which your child can use the phone. When they have finished all their things, learning, doing homework, etc. – their free time should be distributed so that two-thirds of them spend outside playing sports, playing with other children, etc. A third of the free time, which will sometimes be 15 minutes, sometimes half an hour, and on weekends maybe an hour – is not dangerous to allow them to play games and use phones and computers.
5. Professional help: teenagers most at risk
Practice shows that the situation with the emergence of addiction to new technologies is more complex in teenagers than in younger children. They are in a particularly sensitive age in which they are not always ready to cooperate. When parents notice that adolescents avoid live contact with their peers, that they are the only window into the world of social networking, and that they are often nervous and have crises when they are not at a screen – they are already in serious trouble. Then they need professional help.
The Results In Weaning Children From Telephone Addiction
We must emphasize that this is not a typical treatment as with other known forms of addiction. Other methods of treatment will depend on the level of mobile phone addiction. Usually in this treatment, a plan of the day is made for the patient – such as obligations that he has to complete, other leisure activities, and then he is allowed to use a phone as a reward for everything previously done and respected as planned. The results are generally good in most cases, although there are also more difficult cases when psychologists and the whole family and friends must be involved in the treatment.