Ep. 2: Dealing with Electronic Device Addiction
In this episode, I share my concerns about the growing epidemic of electronic device addiction in kids. This electronics obsession can impact all aspects of life, including at home, at school and in the physician’s office.
Based on the daily struggle seen in my private practice, parents seem to be unaware that the addiction is present or that they need to do something about it. I have previously blogged about rude electronic device manners and made some suggestions on quiet activities kids can use. We all have different parenting styles but in your style find some way to address this topic with your kids.
Of great importance, parents must understand there are some serious health risks and potential electronic device complications where screen time is not limited. Please take some time to learn how to avoid dreaded screen time addiction.
Screen time addiction is not new
- Back in the 60s, when I was growing up, we had one TV, we wanted to watch it all the time
- My mother forced us to turn off the TV and go play. This concept should continue!
- In the 90s, when raising my girls, I had clear screen time rules. Back before it was a thing! It made sense
- No TV in bedrooms (increased the needed hours of sleep kids need at different ages)
- No TV Monday-Thursdays unless family watched together.
Cell phones are not game changes
- Cell phones are everywhere but that should not change the desire to limit their use
- You have the power to collect phones before homework is completed or during times they are not allowed. DO IT!
- If kids insist they need to phone to talk to friends about homework, give them your number and they can use your phone with your present. If it is about school work, what is the problem?
- Or if you are old school like me, you might still have a phone land line. I told my kids to have their friends call the landline to talk about homework. No one did…so I guess there was not a real need to talk!
New generation of kids raised with electronics still need control
- Plenty of debate about appropriate amounts of screen time per age group, but I recommend you set your standards and then stick to it. Many parents I see do honor the rules they made.
- But as a parent, you must help instill some degree of self-control in your kids. We do not tolerate childhood meltdowns at the store when they do not get to buy a special toy. We should not tolerate the meltdown that comes when you turn the device volume off or put away the electronic device.
- Electronic device addiction is present when kids cannot entertain themselves for periods of times.
- If you find you constantly struggle to keep their devices charged, always look for outlets and constantly ask for wifi passwords, you may be dealing with an electronic device addiction. Why can’t you go places without feeling pressure to keep kids entertained with electronics?
- If yourself apologizing to your physician when your child falls on the floor and arches her back because you put away the cell phone, you may have a child with an electronic device addiction.
Tips for dealing with electronic device addiction in kids
- At home, practice randomly taking away the device and requiring kids to entertain themselves with other things
- Vary the amount of time that you are removing the device so it is not predictable
- Do not let your child know the device is going to be removed as this resembles how they need to deal with a device that has a dead battery. This should not be a crisis1
- Practice only using devices with no sound or only using headphones
- AND…get control of your own electronic device addiction!
How parent electronic device addiction impacts kids
- I mentioned that you should avoid searching for outlets and chargers for kids, but are you constantly looking to charge your phone?
- Do you hold your phone on your lap while you are talking to the physician? Have you looked down to check an incoming text WHILE the physician is talking?
- Parents should keep their phones in purses or in a pocket to avoid using it. This is true in many situations but particularly during the short physician office visit.
- If an important call or text is coming to let you know another child has arrived home safely, then you can let the physician know and quickly check.
Examples of unacceptable electronic manners (especially in physician’s office)
- Unplugging anything so that you have room to plug in your device. NEVER do this!
- Repeatedly looking down at cell phone in your hand or lap to check incoming messages
- Using any electronic devices with the volume turned up. They should always be silent or used with headphones
- Talking on your phone and when the physician enters, holding up your finger and saying “hold on for a minute”. Seriously? Never. You are there to meet with the physician. When she enters, unless there is a life-threatening emergency, you must tell the caller you have to go, and then promptly hang up.
Because I continue to be flabbergasted by how aggressive kids get when their devices are taken away or volume turned off, I feel this is a topic I will be discussing for a long time.
As always, much love for supporting my work. I intend to launch new episodes every week, but may periodically produce bonus episodes. So, be sure to subscribe to iTunes or subscribe to my blog to be notified. You KNOW you do not want to miss an episode!
Also, you may reach out to me on the contact page to send comments, show topics or questions. You can also send requests to be a future guest, work with me, or sponsor an episode!
**If you have not done so yet, I would LOVE for you to visit iTunes and leave me a 5-star rating so that I can continue to gain traction and grow this podcast. I greatly appreciate your support!**
Such a relevant topic! Technology is inevitable and kids are around it constantly. However, limits are so important.
Technology has revolutionized our world and it is essential. It just should not replace human interactions. Moderation is key!
Loved this. So relevant and so important to set limits and standards for kids!
Thanks so much for reading. As a parent, I know things can get overwhelming but we must be mindful to keep setting limits even when the kids push back. Teaching them self-control and how to function without electronics are vital life skills!
Great topic! I love that you tied in sleep needs. I see far too many sleep deprived kids and it’s usually related to screen time.
Yes, electronic use is kids has many benefits as well as many unintended consequences. We need to be vigilant and not just focus on one aspect. Everything we can do to help our kids get more sleep is a good thing!
Oh wow, I just had this conversation with my kids today. There definitely needs to be limits on the use of devices.
I absolutely agree. Each family may have different rules, but the key is to have some and then enforce them.
Totally agree it’s so important to set healthy limits with electronics for kids. These tips are great!
Part of parenting is setting guidelines for many aspects of our kids lives, and electronics is an important one. If your child is only soothed or satisfied when given electronics, you might need to relook at that situation!
When I first started writing my blog, I wrote a post about Technology in schools. This was before my son was diagnosed with ADHD. We hadn’t allowed him to play video games or use any hand held devices because when he would, he would get so cranky and would throw temper tantrums. When he started Kindergarten, I was very angry that they used tablets for learning because my son would throw tantrums in the class before, after, and during tablet time because he wanted it when he wanted it and would get angry when the teacher would tell him no or tell him it was time to get off. Since taking his medicine, he has reacted better, but I don’t understand why schools think its necessary to teach with them when they have other resources on hand.
Oh goodness, I so agree with this! I understand that electronics are an important part of our lives but kids should not need electronics as soon as they begin school. I would love to see them used for a class or two, like the old days with typing class. These devices impact kids in different ways. Glad your child was able to get his symptoms controlled.
yeah, it really is a problem. I get a little upset when i see a kid in the park or on a train/bus and they have a cell phone in their hand rather than a toy or a book but, i really can’t say anything. These are great tips.
I feel the same way. I have practiced medicine for 30 years and used to enjoy watching kids’ creativity playing with toys or coloring or writing. Now most kids have a tablet, and they don’t even share with siblings. Each is interacting independently with a screen. There need to be clear limits so that hopefully it is not like this at home as well.
It can for sure be a real problem for some families! I am glad to see someone talking about this issue.
Yes and it impacts us all. When you are out in public, you will be distracted by young kids who cry and scream if the volume is turned off or the battery runs out. Kids need to know how to cope and entertain themselves without devices.
I can’t think of a better topic. Fabulous tips. Now if parents will just implement them!
I think we all need to think about this since it is also impacting adults. Kids often mimic adults who are obsessed with their own phones.
We have clear, set electronic device rules and limitations in our house because I don’t want them to become addicted without experiencing books, art and nature. The physician ettiquette should be a given but people don’t surprise me anymore.
I am happy to hear that you have clear rules. Many families do not but say that they try to limit it. I do not understand how you can limit something without a plan for what is allowed.
The addiction with these kids are something else. But the adults also have an addiction too…
There is absolutely no doubt that the parents own device addiction plays into the kids’ actions. We need to make more of an effort as a family to put away devices and interact with each other!