SCREEN ADDICTION STARTS AT HOME
WHAT CAN THE PARENTS DO?
We wake up the morning and before speaking to anyone we say ‘hello’ to our phone. On the way to bathroom we check our messages. On the bus or metro we play games and listen to music, earphones in. Waiting anywhere is a chance to engage with anything on the phone. It’s the last thing we look at before we go to sleep.
Many of us may not feel we have a web addiction, but in truth, most of us have some level of dependency. And we are not alone. In China, there are currently 400 intensive treatment centre for web addiction.
Answer these questions honestly to determine your relationship with technology.
- How does my relationship to technology distract me?
- What information do I consciously take in that helps my well being?
- Am I using technology as a tool for distraction and avoidance?
- Does my relationship with my screen keeps me away from myself and my family?
It is important to recall that technology is a tool. It is up to us to how we use it. Similarly, it is a tool for our children. Teenagers on average spend six to eight hours on screen after school, doing homework while chatting and messaging with their friends, watching video clips and surfing.
We are powerful role models for our children. Are we as parents fostering a generation of internet addicts? Is your teen:
- Preoccupied with the internet
- Stays online much longer than originally intended.
- Showing aggression when online time interrupted.
- Increasingly giving up time with “real life” friends
- Unable to sleep, more than usual irritable moody or lethargic
- Prevent addiction before it starts. The solution begins with parents: model the behaviour you want to see and put away your own screens, including smart phones, tablets and laptops.
Plan family time together that is active and fulfilling. Encourage “real life” interaction between family and friends. Invest in your children by giving them your time away from screens. Try incorporating these activities into your weekly schedule:
- Two game nights per week. Break out the cards and board games!
- Go hiking as a family on the weekend. There are trails for every level.
- Movie night. Watch something old or new together, and don’t forget the popcorn.
- Read and talk about topics of interest to you and your kids. This can range from discussing the latest YouTube heroes to what’s happening in world news.
- Read the same books as your older kids. Discuss. Keep on top of new releases, and plough through trilogies and sequels together.
- Get outside and get active. Go out and kick the ball around. Play catch. Play tag.
- Be mindfully present for them so they can talk to you when they need you.
Technology does not need to be eradicated from our lives. But we must make thoughtful choices about how we use, why we need it, and when we should put it away. It is critical we do this for ourselves and our children.
Dr. Quratulain Zaidi (BSc. Hons, MSc, MSc, PhD) is a mother and a member of the British Psychological Society and British Association Counselling & Psychotherapy and abides by the Ethical Framework for Good Practice in Counselling and Psychology. She has lived in Hong Kong and Singapore for 12 years. She specialises in assisting families with issues including parenting, teen issues, Cybersafety, marriage guidance, post natal depression, stress and anxiety disorders, depression, bullying, eating disorders, OCD and self-harm. She is an expert in educational assessments and learning challenges in children, for example ADHD, ADD, Dyslexia and ASD.