Virtual Learning: How to detect digital addiction in your child and 10 ways to deal with it

Virtual Learning: How to detect digital addiction in your child and 10 ways to deal with it

Virtual Learning: How to detect digital addiction in your child and 10 ways to deal with it

As we embrace the digital age, we are gradually coming to terms with the expression, ‘Digital Addiction’. This term simply refers to an over-reliance or dependence on any digital device, whether a smartphone, tablet, or television set. With the introduction of Virtual learning and social distancing, both parents and children are forced to spend more screen time than ever. However, there is a difference between reliance and addiction to these devices. Whenever these devices tend to control us, instead of us controlling them, then addiction could be lurking in the corner. In this article, we will explore the signs of digital or technology addiction in your child, and some suggested tips to control the situation.

What are the signs of addiction in my child?

They lack interest in activities that used to excite them: Did your child always rush out to bring the ball whenever you mentioned it was time for football? Wait, does he still rush for it since he got that tablet or new PlayStation? If they are choosing screen time over the fun activities they used to be excited about, then there may be an addiction problem.

Irritability and restlessness over the confiscation of gadgets: How does your child behave whenever you seize their electronic gadgets or put a stop to screen time? If they get cranky and uneasy, chances are that they are addicted.

Withdrawal signsWas your child always talking and interacting with the family during dinner and other family times before she had a phone? Has she stopped socializing with you since the gadgets came? Is she always on her phone during lunch lately? If answers to all these are yes, there might be an addiction problem.

Increase in lying or stealing: Does Teddy try to scout your room or turn the hall upside down just to find the TV remote or mobile phone? Does he lie about screen time or online activities?

It is worthy to note that though the above signs could be addiction-related, they may also be subtle signs of other problems. Hence, the need to study your child more and be able to detect a change in their behaviour.

Now that you are able to detect digital addiction in your child, what next?  Below are some suggested tips to help your sweetheart break free.

Helping your child break free

Though you may want to do away with the addiction as soon as possible, being overly strict could cause more harm than good. Like any other addiction, the treatment should be a gradual process.

Explain to them the reason for taking certain decisions: Before you take away any privileges, make sure to explain to them the reasons behind what you are doing. For example: ‘Dear Adjoa, I understand you are not happy about seizing your phone. I understand how you feel, but lately, you hardly spend time on your studies and it is affecting your grades. As a result, I am going to have to ….’

Set parental controls on devices: Thanks to technology, you can remotely supervise your child’s tech activity. Every latest smartphone or TV has a parental control feature that enables the parent to monitor or guide their child’s activity. For example, with the Family Link app for Google users, parents can set digital rules to help guide them as they learn and have fun online. Correspondingly, without your permission, there is no way they can access any site, app, or material.

Before you take away any privileges, make sure to explain to them reasons behind what you are doing.

Set some rules: Probably, before they got addicted, the first thing they did was turn on the television, or go straight to their games. Now, you can set rules such as no phone or tv before virtual class or homework. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach since every family differs. But the core of the matter is that the rules must be set.

Get them busy with an alternative: Once screen time is reduced, your child would definitely be itching to get back to screens. So, If the child in question is younger than the fourth grade, find a substitute like educational colouring books, legos, board games. On the other hand, if your child is a teen, you can substitute the digital device with a project, and other adult board games.

Spend more time with your children – Children often are glued to games, TV shows, and social media because they often feel lonely. So, try and have more family times together bound with rules like no TV playing in the background, or no phones at the table.

Help your child develop their hobby or talent: Try teaching your child a new skill or hobby. It may be cooking, cleaning, sewing, or even a new game. This helps create a balance between the real world and the tech world.

Replace the content rather than the usage: If you feel you may not be able to closely supervise your child’s technology activities, replace the subject with another. Some of the kids’ games and apps offer pure entertainment and zero education. Therefore, you can do away with all mindless content and replace them with educational ones. With that, you are certain that your child is feeding his mind, rather than absorbing nothing. That said, you may still need to apply rules since too much of everything is bad.

Keep all digital devices and plugs out of the bedroom: Once the tablet, laptop or TV is in your child’s room, he would definitely be tempted to turn it on whenever you are not around. So, it is best you keep all the devices in another room, probably somewhere in the living area. Under lock and key.

In extreme cases, get help: If you have tried all you can to curb the situation, yet it persists, you may have to bring in an expert (psychologist). The earlier you do so, the better.

Gradually enforcing some of these tips would get your children spending less time on their devices without them even realizing it. But one important thing to note is that the approaches you would use may vary depending on the age of your child. Hence, as a parent, you would have to study the situations carefully and know which corresponding actions to take.

We wish you all the best! If you think you might be overly dependent on digital devices, you could try some of the tips yourself!