Smartphones and Tabs have become a commonplace for kids nowadays. But despite restrictions, digital addiction is a growing cause of concern for a lot of parents. Detailed here is a Parent’s Struggle with Kids Digital Addiction.
On the Onset
Digital devices like smartphones have been a lifesaver for many parents today, including me and my husband. The phone keeps our toddler completely absorbed and he mostly loves watching videos on YouTube. Smartphones serve as an incredible educational tool and we started using them for learning purposes only. Our toddler used to enjoy watching rhymes and started to sing them even before he turned two years. Eventually, the phone became his favorite media for entertainment.
When the screen time problem started…
As time went by, we discovered that our toddler only wants a phone and nothing else. He was completely hooked on to the phone where he kept scrolling and watching unnecessary videos on YouTube where they promote toys. We started to feel worried when his screen time exceeded more than an hour per day. In fact, he cries for it and begs for it when we tried to restrict his screen time. We were concerned that the phone usage was robbing him of real-world experiences and we had no clue about what to do about it.
The algorithm game begins
The algorithm of online platforms like YouTube is specifically designed to prioritize and lengthen watch time and to keep people addicted. Young kids of age 2 to 6 get carried away easily and spend hours watching videos on such online platforms. The majority of children worldwide are showing signs of phone addiction and it is creating overlooked problems regarding their physical and mental health. Like all the other parents, we were now parents who had struggle with kid’s digital addiction.
Why is Digital Addiction and screen time serious?
Childhood is an important and sensitive period for cognitive development. Recent studies have shown that excessive screen time and long-term exposure to microwave radiation from wireless devices increase the risk of damaging children’s brain structure and function. Also, things like physical activity, proper sleep, and playtime are extremely crucial for toddlers for their development. Excess screen time can mess with their sleep routine and leave them in a sedentary state instead of getting up to play or move.
It took us some time to realize that we could be the reason for our toddler’s phone usage habits. My husband and I were determined to break his screen time before it became an addiction. We weren’t sure if we were doing it the right way but it took us a lot of trial and error to reduce his screen time.
First, we avoided using phones in front of our toddler. When we need to answer calls or text, we do it discreetly. We have even set passcodes to our phones and he is too young to unlock it. We even deleted the YouTube app from our phones. Currently, the only screen time he gets is when he talks to his grandparents or relatives over video calls.
Every time he throws a tantrum asking for the phone to watch rhymes, we play only the audio version and let him listen to the rhymes. Sometimes we sing along with him and he truly enjoys our singing sessions. We encouraged him to do other activities like coloring, playing with legos, etc, to manage his boredom.
He is also encouraged to play more and be active. We take him for mini strolls in the evenings and he loves it. We include him in household chores like gardening and cooking. Also, we take him for an after-dinner walk where he gets to play with the kids in the surrounding area. They gather every day post-dinner and they play by jumping and running around chasing each other.
Also, we got him used to the habit of reading when he was as young as 6 months old and by the time he turned 18 months, he was interested to read books. Now our bedtime routine includes reading his favorite book until he feels sleepy. Reading with toddlers is also a great way to bond with them.
Read more about Digital Addiction and Mental Health here!
Like every device out there, smartphones have pros and cons too. They have become an inseparable part of our lives and it is a huge challenge to keep them away from children. The compulsive use of phones can interfere with their daily life, school, and relationships. As parents, we need to prioritize their safety and well-being. It’s our responsibility to help them find the balance between real life and digital addiction.