Children between the ages eight to eighteen use technology an average of seven and a half hours a day. It is recommended that children should only use technology two hours a day. With the average so high, how can you tell if your child has a problem or if they are just behaving like the rest of their classmates? The American Society of Addiction Medicine describes addiction as “impairment in behavioral control or cravings.” Many children are starting to experience real withdrawal and even depression when they have to face more than five hours of their day without technology in hand. If that isn’t a struggle with a technology addiction, than what is?
The Affect of Technology on Children
It is said that addiction becomes a problem when it affects your day-to-day life as well as the lives of those around you. Your child’s screen time might have such an affect. You’ve seen it happen before. You go to dinner and everyone sitting at the table is on their phones. People aren’t paying attention at work or school because they are goofing off on their iPads. You get mad when your partner doesn’t look up from their computer when you’re speaking to them. These moments are all affecting your daily life, now imagine what it is doing to your child. When technology moves past an activity your child enjoys in their free time to something they do with all their time, there is a problem.
What to Look For
As you try to find out if your child is addicted to technology you must first treat technology like an actual drug. Each and every one of the signs we list below can be applied to gambling or narcotics. While your child isn’t buying technology off a shady dealer on the street, they might be using it like a real addict so take each bullet point seriously as it is a clear sign there is a problem.
- Does your child start every morning and end every night by using some kind of technology?
- Have they ever lied to you in order to use technology?
- Have they stopped playing with friends who don’t enjoy the same technology that they do?
- Has their performance at school suffered?
- Have they ever lied about how often they use technology?
- Have they resisted your attempt to regulate their use of technology?
- Do they have trouble sleeping or eating because they are using technology?
- Do they become anxious without technology available?
- Do they have trouble imagining time spent without technology?
- Do they have trouble interacting with the family?
- Do they believe they will be “uncool” without certain technology?
- Do they get defensive about the time they spend using technology?
- Do they often talk about technology?
- When they are upset, do they use technology to relax?
If you have answered yes to the majority of these questions, then it might be time to set some limits on your child’s use of technology.
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