There’s a lot of anecdotal evidence flying around the Internet about when to introduce children to technology, how often to allow them their tech time, and what to do to connect with children if their tech-reliance is making them distant. You’ll find articles written in earnest by parents who aren’t allowing their children any form of screen until they’re teenagers, citing their children’s good behavior as evidence that this is the right decision.
The only problem is, on the other side of the spectrum, you’ll find parents writing articles, also in earnest, who allowed their children access to technology right off the bat, and they’ll cite their children’s achievements as evidence of their correct decision. It can all get a bit baffling.
Most parents fall somewhere in the middle, though, allowing their children some time with a computer, tablet or phone, but restricting the time they’re allowed. After all, tablets, computers and phones can be fun, creative, educational tools that reward a child’s reflexes and intellect.
But what do you do if you think your child is developing an unhealthy attachment to these devices, becoming excessively angry when they’re taken away, or sneaking around and hiding their usage from you? This article will explore some of the ways you can talk to your child, some of the measures you can take, and some of the professional counselling services for kids that are available.
If you think that your child is becoming over-attached to their device(s), the first thing you can do is take the device away and chat with them about how that makes them feel. Allowing a child to throw a tantrum isn’t always the best way to get something done, but if you engage them calmly, and ask them to investigate why they’re angry, you can hopefully get at the heart of the matter quicker. It might be because they have more fun on their device, and they become bored without it, in which case you have to wonder whether you’re providing them enough in the way of stimulation away from their device. Find a creative outlet like crafts, or an athletic outlet like sports that they can play, which will offer them a different outlet for fun and entertainment.
But it’s not always fun time, either. Sometimes, you need a child to remove their face from the screen to do something that is decidedly not fun, like chores or homework. In that case, it’s best to set up a reward system, where tech time can be viewed as a reward for doing work. Half an hour of homework, and they can bank 15 minutes of screen time.
This model works all the better if you’re there as an example. If you’re on your phone or computer constantly, even if it is just to check up on emails, this sends a message to your child that over-usage is normal – good, even.
Finally, if you feel like you’re unable to control your child’s device usage, or if their behavior when you take their device away is unusually angry and possessive, it is recommended you enlist the help of a professional counselor. A counselor will help analyze patterns of behavior and create a personalized plan to address the problem. In this day and age, it can be tempting to think that being in front of a screen all the time is just “the way of the future”, but it’s far better that a child learns boundaries and discovers other outlets for creativity, recreation and socializing.