Regulate Screen time for Children

One of the big questions that parents have is, "Is my child addicted to screens?" Odds are, we're all addicted to them, right? We find them fascinating. You have parents that can't leave their phones down. You have people that can't put them down while driving. Yes, addictive behaviors are possible with anything we do, including exercise.

Instead of asking if your child is addicted, you need to be asking yourself, "Does my child have a bad habit that can turn into addiction?" This is what I find, as a cybersecurity expert, oftentimes is the case that parents have. They misdiagnose their children thinking they have an addiction, and it's really just a bad habit.

What's the difference between the two and what do they look like? Well, a bad habit looks like I'm always having tabs open and I'm getting distracted on tasks versus I can't leave my phone in the other room without having a panic attack and anxiety attack and freaking out because I can't find my phone. Do you see the difference?

You can have multiple tabs open on your browser, and maybe you have a bad habit, but not necessarily be addicted to taking your laptop everywhere you go. The same thing applies to technology. We also need to recognize the behaviors that our child has when we take the technology away. A great way to do this and one of my favorite resources is this book called Reset Your Child's Brain.

It's a whole screen time actual therapy to reduce and go on a fast from screen time to see how your child reacts to prove if they have what she calls electronic screen syndrome versus an actual addiction. It's based on a doctor on lots of psychotherapy analyses.

I actually encourage a lot of parents to take this as a first step and get themselves right with screen time. The next thing that we can do is really focus on being intentional in the way we use our devices.

It's something that is so, so, so important with the things that we do with our kids, because if we have no intention, then the rules can go any which way. And this doesn't look like a phone contract.

Phone contracts really tell our kids what they're allowed to do and what they're not allowed to do, but they don't give intention to how we use devices. A lot of people are coming up with tech plans, which I invented because it's important to do this, but the truth is you need more than a tech plan.

You need a purpose for technology. You need to define things that say, "We use technology that is wholesome, recreational, and allows us to connect better with our families, or we use technology for the purpose of being able to connect and provide better accesses and resources to educate ourselves."

Having these parameters allows us to really set the bar high and being able to do the things that we want to do with our kids, but allow us to use technology in a non-addictive way.

Another thing that we need to do is to be able to set boundaries that reinforce these goals because the truth is, a lot of parents assume that just by putting on a parental control device or setting screen-time habits that reinforce the behavior. However, as soon as those devices come off, that's like taking off the training wheels, and you have to learn the bike all over again.

Kids need practice with and without training wheels. I call this creating a safe virtual playground. Parents need to create that safe virtual playground that is locked tight like a fortress and slowly expanded and molted down so that kids can learn to have guardrails on the inside so that they can actually focus and thrive in the real world.

These are some of the techniques that are required to being able to master screen-time addiction. What about educational things? I have noticed in many kids that when they play these awesome, amazing apps that are designed to enhance a child's capability, even if they're designed by teachers, they're still based on the same addictive video game principles that are discussed in the book, Glow Kids.

They still exhibit the behaviors, although probably not as extreme, I have noticed even in my own children, especially at a young age, that they still get addicted to educational games.

It's important to find the balance. Pay attention to your child. Are they overreacting and screaming when you pull them off? Are they actually improving or are they just memorizing? That's something else that I've noticed with a lot of these academic apps is they focus on the memorization of stuff. You can memorize facts all day long, but unless you know it up here and in here, you're not going to remember it.

We need to get back to the reason why do we write? Why do we color? Why do we play in the sand? Why do we play with things that drive mom crazy? They actually attribute to all five senses, which actually makes learning more probable for kids, even teenagers, and adults. Most people, this is why they struggle in college because it doesn't engage all the five senses of learning.

Unless you can engage all those five senses, it makes it extremely hard, which is one of the reasons why science can be such a hard thing because it's a very abstract concept.

I hope this helps you understand a little bit more about what you can do with children being addicted to screen time and how that affects you and your kids because it's important to realize and know that these are the tools and things that parents need to have. It's not just a matter of plug it and be done.

It requires constant involvement, just like teaching a child to walk or crawl or eat on their own without spilling their food everywhere, right? The same concept applies. We have to teach them how to use it. A lot of parents struggle with this because you don't know how, but the truth is you do. You just haven't thought about it before.

Go back to how you were a child and choose the same process with your kids. That is how you can help them to be able to not be addicted to technology and be able to use it as a tool in a healthy manner.

Check more of this series here:

Truth is, you need more than a tech plan.

Key Takeaways:

Focus on being intentional with the way we use our devices.
It's important to find balance.
You need a purpose for the technology.

Children and Electronics with Chelsea Brown

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