Nowadays, everything is dependent on technology, and we know that if you wish your little one to become successful in the future, they need to be able to use it. Therefore, children need to become “digital natives” to have a successful career as adults.
Today we cannot imagine a person who cannot use a computer, a tablet, and the biggest culprit of them all, the mobile phone. Unfortunately, however, there is also a great danger of children becoming addicted to their mobile phones. So how can parents prevent this from happening? And if your child is already addicted to their mobile device, how can you reverse this damage? Keep reading to find out the answers to these questions.
Learning to use the mobile phone at an appropriate age.
One of the major mistakes many parents make is that they introduce their little ones to mobile devices at a very early age; some children start interacting with mobile phones at the tender age of two. The only justifiable reason for exposing a baby to a mobile phone at this age is perhaps the video chat with the family members. Other than that, toddlers who can barely walk have no business engaging with a mobile phone device.
Parenting is undoubtedly hard, and sometimes when your baby is crying, all you want to do is make him stop, and giving them a noisy and shiny mobile phone can be a way to do that. But if you do this regularly, then your toddler will not be able to calm themselves down without the help of the gadget; so, it is better to take the harder route and find another way to soothe them when they’re irritated.
Monitor what they consume.
When it comes to media consumption, parents should strictly monitor what their children are watching and when they’re doing it. Make sure that they are exposed only to high-quality content that has some educational value. For example, there are thousands of videos out there that teach children how to count, tell time, about shapes, colors, nursery rhymes, etc. These types of videos are obviously fine; however, even they should be consumed in moderation.
Some adults treat their smartphone as a babysitter and allow their children to consume hours upon hours of content to keep them engaged and quiet; needless to say, this approach will cause mobile phone addiction, and it should be avoided at all costs.
You can also watch videos together and use this as a bonding experience. This is especially useful when watching some videos in a second language. For example, if your child doesn’t understand a certain word, they can ask you what it means, and you can translate it for them. Or, after the end of the video, you can discuss it, and you can help your child comprehend the deeper meaning of what they just saw, thus developing their critical thinking skills and their imagination.
Disable your mobile internet or turn off your Wi-Fi.
Video portals are designed to keep you clicking on the next video indefinitely. So, if your child is using an internet-enabled smartphone, they might never willingly put the device down. However, if they are watching content that you have downloaded onto your device ahead of time, they know that their time with the mobile phone is limited, and once the video has ended, they will have to put it down.
And remember that the children are much smarter than we think, so if you push a button on your smartphone and turn off the mobile internet, they will find a way to turn it back on when you’re not looking, and if they are slightly older, then finding out the Wi-Fi password is a piece of cake, so be vigilant.
Lead by example.
All children want to imitate their parents, so if your child sees that you are glued to your mobile phone hours on end, they are unlikely to respect your instructions if you tell them not to do the same. Of course, you need your mobile phone to work, which is a perfectly justified reason for spending more time on your phone than your child does. However, once your working hours are over, put your device down and engage in some fun activity with your little one. This type of face-to-face interaction will benefit you both; it will help your child curb their mobile phone addiction and help you build a better relationship.
Create a schedule and stick to it.
Children should know when exactly they are allowed to use their smartphones for entertainment and for how long. And the important thing here is to remain consistent. For example, if they can play with their smartphone for half an hour every day after doing their homework, they should know that the half an hour time limit is non-negotiable. And if mobile phone consumption is forbidden at certain times (for example, during meal times or before going to bed), these rules should also be enforced consistently without exceptions. If your child is already severely addicted to a mobile phone device, it will be tough to stick to the schedule at first, but they will eventually get the message if you remain persistent.
To conclude, mobile phones are an essential part of our lives, and they are here to stay. Nevertheless, they also pose a great danger since it is straightforward for young and impressionable children to get addicted. To prevent or reverse mobile phone addiction in children, parents can follow the useful tips listed above; though, if you feel that the situation has gone too far out of hand and you are unable to control your child’s mobile phone dependence on your own, you can talk to a qualified children’s therapist or a private tutor to get more advice. They will provide you with a more detailed strategy on how to deal with this problem.