Addiction to Electrical Devices
Created as a medium to help us stay connected to others, now has taken control of many people’s lives, making society phone zombies. Smartphones and other electronic devices revolutionised our lives. But at what cost? Twin Rivers is receiving an increasing number of inquiries regarding smart-phone and internet addiction which is why we have developed a programme for those 18 years of age and older!
Device addiction amongst children
Although the term addiction has been widely used about alcohol or drugs, now it’s also a big issue when it comes to technology dependence. And while this is a problem for people of all ages, too much screen time and social media are particularly harmful to children.
47% of parents say their child is addicted to the phone and 67% of teachers notice that students are negatively distracted by mobile devices. Now, there is no surprise in seeing 3-years-old glued to the mobile screen, which is often used as a ‘shut-up tool’ for those parents who are too busy to spend time with their child.
Once children figured out that through that little device, there is an entire world accessible to them, it becomes their inseparable obsession.
How screen time affects children’s brain?
Studies show that repeating the same task over a long period of time affects the physical structure of the brain, changing the neuronal circuits. The more often the same neuronal connections are used, the stronger they become. That is why a child who is constantly exposed to electronic devices will have a physically different brain than a child who is not.
Studies also suggest that the more time children spend viewing the screens of electronic devices, the more they are at risk of affecting the working of the brain. Lack of interpersonal experiences and excessive screen time can contribute to the narrowing of some areas of the brain that regulate emotions, decision-making, and impulse control.
Does your child have technology addiction?
Constant exposure to electronic devices can be a warning sign for parents who are concerned about the consequences that a lot of time in front of the screens can have on their children. If your child repeats any of these following behaviours, it may be a sign of being addicted:
- A negative attitude towards spending time without a phone
- Excessive need to stay connected and check the phone every few minutes
- Problematic behaviour while not having access to phone/computer
- Frequent mood swings, increased anxiety, irritation, and feelings of depression while not having access to mobile devices
- Constant distraction by technology and using it irrationally while crossing the street
- Lack of interests in other activities
How can you help your child with technology addiction?
As a parent who buys these gadgets for your children, you are responsible for controlling your child’s access to technology.
Often things can get out of hand before you can realise the severity of the situation. Remember, it is never too late to get back on track and teach your child good habits. In order to help your child, overcome addiction problem try to:
- Set boundaries and use parental control to limit screen-time on your child’s phone;
- Replace screen time with other activities with your family. Be interactive with your children, put an effort into finding activities that your children would find interesting;
- Teach them to find balance between virtual world and reality, establish screen-free zones, especially for family meals and gatherings.
- Use parental control to limit access to violence, pornography, and other harmful content.
- Get your kids outdoors and encourage them to more face-to-face interactions with their peers.
The most important thing, though, is to give a good example as a parent. When your child sees you glued to the screen, they take it as an example of appropriate behaviour. Try to look at yourself from your children’s perspective and show them that you also are willing to reduce screen time. Remember that you also need to stick to the limits that you set.
If you’re worried that electronics have a bad influence on your children, boundaries that you set didn’t work, and you see that the situation is too serious to manage it on your own, share your concerns with a specialist that can help your child deal with the addiction.
We are fortunate enough to live at a time when technological advancement creates so many great opportunities for most aspects of life. It is important to remember that electronic devices are only tools that we must have control over, not the opposite way around! And having a child obliges us to teach them how to manage technology use effectively, so it does not have negative consequences on their life.
David is the Clinical and Development Director of Twin Rivers Rehab in South Africa and a UK Accredited Addictions Therapist with the Federation of Drug and Alcohol Professionals UK. Articles/Blogs are written with the assistance of researchers and other specialists in the field of addiction and the recovery process