Is your child addicted to screens?
By Jenn Savedge
Mother Nature Network (mnn.com)
Let me state the obvious here and suggest that at this precise moment, you are probably staring at a screen of some sort. We all do it anywhere from several to several hundred times a day. Studies have shown that all this technology can become addictive if we let it. And our children are growing up in a world that normalizes that addiction.
Gadgets such as iPhones, Kindles and laptops have barely been in our lives for a decade, but already it seems as though many of us are addicted to them. And if you think you check your phone or iPad frequently, you should know that your teen is probably checking it even more. A new study has found that the majority of kids spend as much as 75 percent of their days staring at one screen or another. That means that kids go right from phones to iPads to TVs to computers each day with little break in between. And the only nature they are probably seeing is on the flip side of a screen.
Not surprisingly, when efforts are made to limit all of that time, kids exhibit symptoms of withdrawal and depression just as strong — if not stronger — than those associated with drugs or alcohol.
The International Center for Media & the Public Agenda (ICMPA) recently asked 1,000 students in 10 countries on five continents to quit using technology and media for just one day. Just one. At the end of that 24-hour period, they asked the kids how they felt. Here’s what they learned:
— Students in the study repeatedly used the term “addiction” when describing their dependence on media. One student from the USA noted: “I was itching, like a crackhead, because I could not use my phone.”
— Many of the students simply could not complete the task, giving in to their gadgets before the 24 hours had passed.
— Most students said they felt lost, alone and lonely without connecting to their gadgets.
— The majority of students responded that they had no idea what to do with their time if they weren’t checking their gadgets.
— Students said they missed the source of connection, security and comfort they received from their gadgets, with one U.S. student noting, “My phone is my only source of comfort.”
Pretty scary, huh? How do you think your child would do for 24 hours without her gadgets? How would you do? It’s worth finding out. And most importantly, if you do convince your child to step away from the screen for a day, you should do the same. Be prepared for you both to feel a little lost without your gadgets for a few hours. But also be prepared to spend the best 24 hours of quality time that you’ve had with your daughter since those screens came into your lives.