“Giving your child a smartphone or a tablet is like giving them a gram of cocaine.”
– Mandy Saligari, Harley Street Clinic Director and Addiction Therapist
This is rather a very disturbing news coming from someone who has been treating drug addicts for years! Who knew that technology could lead to certain addiction? I mean, this isn’t like caffeine in your coffee that has a slight potential to make you a coffee addict or simply just being addicted to video games. This has been equated to be “as addictive as” 1 gram of cocaine! And you give that to your kids. Let that sink in for a moment so you could understand the implications of this study.
We here at Tablet For Kids are very serious when it comes to technology/gadget addiction and child discipline, which is why we highlight this new research in hopes to save lives – of children no less.
Treating Gadgets as Harmless
Doctor Saligari said that the problem with smartphone or tablet addiction is that parents often overlook the fact that these things appeal so much to the human brain as chemical drugs do. It’s not to say that parents are to blame, rather the lack of information about the harmful effects of gadgets on people is the main reason for such neglect. Manufacturers of these electronic devices have only one driving motive and that is profit. So they may not proactively instruct their marketing department to create campaigns to raise awareness of this kind of addiction, which is, sad to say, becoming more and more rampant nowadays.
With all the billions of dollars that go into the pockets of these electronic giants, they may even consider suppressing the information about gadget addiction instead of helping proliferate it for the benefit of their consumers. Since that is the case and the fact that you’re reading this article (whether you’re a parent or not yet), you have the moral obligation to control the use of smartphones and tablets by your children. Safety first as I always say!
You may also want to read Fast Track Electronics: Is Moore’s Law Outdated?
Identifying the Triggers
There are ways to find out if your child is starting to become addicted to his or her smartphone or tablet and once you’ve identified these triggers, then you can come up with methods to counter the addictive effects of the gadgets. I could say that the difference between the children’s upbringing of my generation is somewhat disproportionate to today’s kid’s upbringing, and I’ll go out on a limb and say that it isn’t progressive in the general sense. If anything, most of the children’s development in just about every society nowadays is closer to degenerative in some sense. Although there are some kids that had become very good in adapting to the information technology that has become the way of life of every modern society today.
Here are some signs and symptoms of smartphone/tablet addiction:
- Spends a lot of time on their smartphone or tablet
- Interacts less and less with their environment and prefers isolation
- Sleeps late because of using their smartphone/tablet browsing the web, hanging out on social media sites and live streaming videos and music
- Wakes up very late and does not eat breakfast
- Deteriorating health condition due to improper diet
- Becomes either an obese or malnourished
- Rejects hanging out with their friends or hangs out with friends who are also gadget addicts
- Rarely makes new friends or attend public gatherings to build a social life
- Does not understand what playing outdoor kid’s games is or finds it boring
- Has virtually no physical exercise to improve health and wellbeing
- Is somewhat depressed or is already suffering depression
- Fails in school or have been caught cheating by their teachers with the culprit being their smartphone
- Has trouble doing their chores, because they prefer to spend their time with their smartphones or doesn’t do their chores efficiently due to, again, their tablets or smartphones
- May have had put themselves in mortal danger at least once, because they’re so focused on their gadgets instead of carefully observing street traffic while crossing the street, falls off an open manhole, or a ditch
If you’ve noticed your child behaves in certain ways that result in even half of what was mentioned above, then seek professional help immediately! An addiction therapist in your area would be the best person to go to and ask for help.
Ways you can Do to Prevent Smartphone/Tablet Addiction
Smartphone or tablet addiction is not beyond help, in fact, you can prevent it if you guide your children to the right path in life. I think it’s safe to say that a parents’ love will see their kids through anything even certain addiction. Yes, your love and bond with your family members is stronger than any addiction or problem that you’ll encounter in life and you will overcome it all together. Here are some ways you can dissuade your children on not to be on their smartphones/tablets all the time.
- Keep communications open – talk to them often and try to be their best friend more than just a family member, so you’ll be updated with everything that happens in their life. This way you can spot red flags and immediately remove it from their daily routine or divert their attention from it to more constructive ways of living.
- Go on family picnics regularly – let them see the beauty of family bonding via camping, hiking, fishing, kayaking or any other exciting outdoor activities. This will help reduce stress and encourage them to want to do more stuff other than just sticking their faces on the screens of their smartphones or tablets. In time they may even influence their friends to try out what you’ve been doing as a family and, who knows, help their friends get rid of their gadget addiction too!
- Encourage them to join sports activities – whether in school or elsewhere where sportsmanship spirit and camaraderie is emphasized take them there and have them join that sport. This will help build their confidence, make new friends, build their social network outside of Facebook or Instagram, and become better individuals in the community.
- Lure them to health concealed in your delicious meals – okay, maybe they’re not all that interested in healthy diet or vitamins, minerals, essential amino acids, green tea and other food that’s beneficial for their health; however, if you’re clever enough, you can make them eat healthy foods without them even noticing it! Kids often prefer junk food and fastfood over real healthy food, because they are being targeted by ads from tv, radio and even the web that they access daily through their phones. So you can’t just outright tell them to stop eating junk food lest you want to be branded as Hitler or a communist dictator of the house that is. You need to slowly and in a friendlier way convince them that what they’re eating isn’t healthy and why they need to eat real food. From a simple mango oatmeal breakfast smoothie to a maple salmon or the flavorful of the ginger-glazed mahi-mahi and other amazing yet healthy recipes that you can find! I highly recommend AllRecipes.com for tons of recipes which are submitted by members from all over the world. You’ll have an endless resource of healthy recipes to entice your kids with!
- It’s still okay to let them use their smartphones/tablets – but you may want to impose some soft restrictions on their use so as not to let them go beyond the recommended limit that could potentially make them addicted to the device. Maybe set a limit of 2 hours a day for using their gadgets and then teach them to be responsible kids on the rest of the day, but don’t forget to make it fun. Discipline doesn’t have to be boring or puts you on a stiff situation where you become the bad guy.
It seems that we have an unacknowledged stigma from the smartphone industry that still eludes the mainstream media, don’t we? Information is crucial in making people realize the danger that gadget addiction poses to people, especially to our children; or it will get so bad that we’ll just wake up one day with tech addicts walking around like zombies. Or worse, what if we’ve all become zombies and never wake up from this virtual reality nightmare, which had replaced reality? Thankfully we can still do something about it and that is to create an awareness about it one person at a time. I admit that even though I’m writing about how to prevent smartphone/tablet addiction, yet I cannot escape the fact that some of you (or most of you) are still reading this blog post on their tablets or smartphones.
Hypocritical of me, I know, but like I said using such devices is not wrong at the very basic level as they were designed to help us access information, and we need information to survive in a technological society. I’m merely pointing out what Dr. Saligary found out in her research and that is to help children avoid being gadget addicts. Thanks for reading and don’t forget to drop a comment below.