Children love bright screens. It’s no wonder that smartphones and tablet devices have become their favorite toys now. While these devices can be used as educational aids for kids, they often cause children more harm than good. Smartphone addiction in children is getting worse and worse. And it can seriously harm a child’s health and wellbeing.
The radiation from mobile phones can damage children’s health. The blue light emitted from their screen can hurt their eyes. And the unrestricted and unmonitored use of smartphones can expose children to inappropriate content and cybercriminals. They might even develop gaming disorder.
How to protect your children from smartphone addiction
Keep them away from mobile phones as much as possible.
Restrict the use of mobile phones by children. Avoid buying phones for kids until they are at least 16 years old. Younger children have thinner bones so the cellphone radiation can severely affect their vital organs.
If your kids must use a mobile phone, teach them healthier habits.
- Encourage them to use a wired headset instead of pressing the phone to the ear.
- Don’t let children use a mobile phone in a car. The metal body of the car blocks signals. This causes the mobiles to increase their power to catch signals. So, the radiation of mobile phones is more in a vehicle.
- Don’t let children use mobile phones in places where the signal strength is weak. The radiation would be more in such areas.
- And don’t let them use a smartphone before sleeping or in dark. It can hurt their eyes and disturb the sleep cycle.
2. Balance, don’t banish:
Smartphones can be useful educational aids. And for older kids, they have become vital for maintaining social connections. You should keep phones away from babies and young kids. But it may not be possible to prohibit older kids from using mobiles. The better alternative is judiciously determining how much time they can spend with a mobile, and when. Set limits and try to maintain them.
3. Make your kids aware:
Give a detailed explanation to children about the harms of smartphones. Tell them about its ill-effects on their physical and mental wellbeing. When kids understand the dangers of spending too much time with their phones, they would be more willing to obey the smartphone restrictions you set.
4. Be a good example.
Children are very susceptible to learning by influence. If you want them to restrict their use of smartphones, you must restrict your use of smartphones too. And if you want them to adopt healthy habits, you need to lead by example. If you spend most of your hours staring into your phone, you can’t tell your kid not to do it. Set a good example and restrict your use of the smartphone.
5. Keep them active.
Smartphone addiction pulls children away from physical activity. Kids just want to spend time with their phones. The lack of physical activity can lead to obesity and worse problems. Staying indoors most of the time might affect their social life, too. So try to make them more active. Make them play games that require physical exertion. Once they start taking interest in playing and spending time with their friends, their smartphone addiction will automatically reduce.
6. Keep them engaged:
Try to find activities children might enjoy and keep them engaged. Encourage them to take up healthier hobbies like sports, gardening, cooking, handicrafts, etc. Kids might be unwilling to leave their phones and take up any other hobby. Try to pull them into it little by little. If you think your kid might enjoy gardening, start by asking his or her help for just ten minutes. Then gradually increase the time. Make sure children get a sense of achievement out of the activity. Once that happens, they will start spending more time on it.
7. Make rules with your child:
Setting down rules is vital for preventing and combating smartphone addiction. But don’t make these rules all by yourself. Include your children in the decision. Explain to them the harms of using smartphones too much. Understand their needs. And fix the rules about their use of mobile phones together. Set limits upon the time they spend with a phone, when they can use the phone and when it is prohibited.
8. Use the 5-minute warning:
If you order children to put the phones down when they are in the middle of a game or chat, they will hate you for it. Do it often enough and they will start rebelling and disobeying. It’s better to give them an advance warning that their mobile phone time is getting over. Give them a 5-minute warning and let them windup whatever they are doing on the phone.
9. Use technology to fight smartphone addiction:
Set a password on your phone so your children can’t use it without your permission. If your kids have a phone, install apps on the mobiles to monitor and limit their smartphone use. Don’t feel guilty about intruding into your children’s privacy. Their wellbeing is your responsibility. So, you must do what you need to do to keep your children safe. And don’t hesitate in letting your kids know you are keeping a watch on their phones.
Smartphones have become an essential part of modern life. You can’t totally banish it from your children’s life. Instead, it is wiser and more effective to teach them judicious use of it. And lead by example.