Technology addiction is an emerging problem that we don’t know much about yet. But every day, more kids are getting hooked on technology. While there are many benefits to technology--it can be used for educational purposes and can teach new skills--there are also drawbacks, especially when kids overuse technology.
First, it’s important to recognize the signs of tech addiction. It’s perfectly normal for kids to want to play video games, watch YouTube videos, or chat online with their friends. Kids and teens use technology to socialize, and taking it away completely can leave them feeling cut off. But some kids go overboard and become addicted to their technology.
If your child is using technology for hours at a time without pausing for a break, you may need to monitor them more closely. If they complain, whine, or throw a fit when they can’t use technology for a period of time, that’s cause for concern.
Other symptoms of technology addiction in kids include:
- Spending more than 5 hours a day using smartphones, tablets, computers, or playing video games
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when they can’t use technology
- Ignoring real-world activities in favor of using technology
- Withdrawing socially from friends and family
- Staying up late or missing sleep to use technology
- Constantly checking their phone, even when it’s not ringing or vibrating
- Using technology to escape from feelings of loneliness or sadness
While many of these symptoms are normal to some degree, they can become problematic quickly. Luckily, through early interventions and monitoring, parents can help their kids before technology addiction takes its toll on them.
The most important thing parents can do is set limits on screen time. These limits should begin at a young age, when kids are most vulnerable to getting hooked on technology. For elementary school children, 2 hours a day is plenty of time for technology. Older children may be able to use technology for 3-4 hours.
It’s crucial to set limits not only on time, but content. Monitor what your kids are doing online. Teens and adolescents can not only become addicted to technology, they may also develop an addiction to internet porn. Keeping the computer in an area like the living room or family room can easily stop this. Installing monitoring software on devices helps, too.
Finally, fill your kids’ day with offline activities. Signing kids up for sports, having a family game night, or going on family outings are all great ways to get kids away from technology without making them feel like they’re being punished.
Parents, how do you set limits on technology use? Have you dealt with technology addiction before? We love to hear about your experiences!
The opinions expressed in Education Futures: Emerging Trends in K-12 are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.