11/17/2015

Posted by Dr A in | 11/17/2015 No comments



With the advancement in technology and the sea of knowledge at fingertips, its difficult to stay away from modern gadgets like ipad, smart phones, tablets, TV and the like in day to day life. Recent researches show that both children and adults are falling prey to screen addiction.

The negative impact of screen addiction is overshadowed by the immediate colourful and exciting experience that these gadgets have to offer. Though it is true that to some extend we should all be in touch with the ever-escalating and overwhelming tech know-how, but its always important to remember that too much of anything is harmful.

Children are more vulnerable to this negative impact and it is more difficult to detach them from such an addiction. Todays' generation even more so, as they are more adamant and more exposed to friends having similar gadgets.

Parents/guardians are the key role-player in noticing such a problem in a child and guiding them out of it gently.

What are some of the signs of gadget addiction?

  • The child is mostly found with the gadget.
  • Child disinterested in anything else apart from his gadget. He may need to be prompted for meals or a shower.
  • First thing in the morning and last thing in the night he seeks the company of his gadget.
  • Outdoor/group games, his favourite sports or spending time with books are no longer exciting to him.
  • He is found playing with his gadget even on a picnic or family gatherings.
  • Slowly his grades start to fall and frequent complaints from school teachers regrading his dropping academic performance. 
  • Frequent lying about his gadget time.
  • Easily angered and gets upset when can't access his favourite web content or is offline. 
  • Argumentative and defensive everytime gadget time limit is discussed.
What are some of the side effects of screen addiction?

  • Behavioural problems
  1. Mood swings while offline and online.
  2. Shouldering passwords and gaining access to inappropriate contents.
  3. Fighting with siblings over its use or throwing tantrums when asked to stop using gadget.
  4. Finding excuses to increase gadget time.
  5. Misusing gadget time. Hiding gadgets every time a parent appears.
  • Increasing aggression: studies show that those children who spend more time playing violent or aggressive games tend to behave more aggressively with peers and family. Such children are more adamant, rude and insultive to both parents and teachers.
  • Disturbed sleep pattern. Sleep is vital part of growth and rejuvination of our bodies. Sleepless nights/days because of excessive chats/messages causes exhaustion and a dull next-day even in adults. Likewise, sleep-deprived children loses focus in class and gradually end up having poor academic performance.
  • Obesity: an increasing problem among teenagers is attributed partly to gadget addiction and sedentary lifestyle. Children instead of cycling out and having fun are found glued to TV gobbling down junk food and sugary drinks!
  • Depression: As teenagers misses out on friends and family and competes on buying less affordable gadgets, slowly they detach themselves from the outside world, start feeling lonely and ultimately become depressed.
Digital detoxification
It is important to understand that any addiction does not go away in a day. Time, patience, vigilence and repeated reinforcement helps. The idea is not to isolate and punish such children but to gradually show them the importance of more practical life for their age. One important point to note is: handle them in such a way that they do not end up thinking of you as their enemy.

  • Set some firm rules. Declare areas as gadget free zones such as dining table, bed, prayer room etc. Insist that meal times are family times and use this time to have positive and constructive discussions and share words of encouragement. Recall happy & funny moments from previous outings, make future holiday plans or praise the child for good performance at school. Ask for and consider child's opinion too.
  • If the child is obsessed with TV, cut down TV time for the whole family. You may allow thrice in a week 1 hour TV time of children friendly channels. Its imperative that adults follow these rules too.
  • Monitor sleeping hours. Do not allow gadgets while going to bed. Remove any gadget on a child's bed while sleeping. Although there are contradictory reports from various studies regarding the harmful effects of the electromagnetic radiations emitted by electronic gadgets, but why take the chance? Its proven that sleep disturbances are indeed caused by such gadgets, which suffices to rectify our habits for better sleep.
  • Keep the child occupied in a "manually" building projects of his interest. Depending on their age and gender you may choose simple projects and assign them tasks. Praise your child's efforts every now and then, you may wish to reward them at the completion of it. 
  • Spend quality time with your child. Give them your undivided attention whenever you are around them. Play with them, take interest in their school work, watch over while they do their homeworks and assignments, ask if they need help, figure out ways to find solutions, its okay to play a video game with them sometimes.
  • Plan your day out. Include activities that your child wants. 
  • Organise or attend family get-togethers. Its important for a child to know that he has cousins and gets to spend time with them. 
If you fail to de-addict your child despite all your efforts, seek advice from the de-addiction centres. They have more structured approach for the same.

Lastly, it's important to introspect your own habits as a parent/guardian and change them if necessary. Let them not be following in your footsteps as far as gadget addiction is concerned.

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