How to Help a Child with Screen Addiction
Have you ever been so overwhelmed by something that you decide to do nothing? Because you don’t even know where to start? Or because you can’t do everything perfectly? How many of us feel this way when it comes to knowing how to help a child with screen addiction? I would say a large percentage of us!
As parents, we are trying to figure this out as we go! We’re the first generation to raise a generation that doesn’t remember life without the internet. We don’t have a past generation to learn from.
This is on us.
Don’t worry though, I’m giving you five actionable steps you can start implementing today to help you have more screen-balance in your home.
How to Help a Child with Screen Addiction
Device-Free Family Dinners
Don’t underestimate the power of family dinners. Research provides plenty of support for the importance of family dinners. Among other things, it’s shown to improve behavior problems, and children are known to have less substance abuse among other positive outcomes.
But what happens when we add devices into family dinners? Do your children feel seen, heard, and loved? Do you check that notification while your children are telling you how their day was? And if they have a device in their hand, how much are they interacting with you?
I recommend getting a basket and placing it in another room for all devices to go in during dinner. Yes, even Mom and Dad’s phones.
Central Charging Station
Studies have shown when kids take their devices to bed with them they are not getting adequate sleep. This is when they are also making poor choices online with what they are viewing and what they are texting to their peers.
Give all devices a bedtime and at whatever time you choose, put those devices on a central charging station in your bedroom. This is a good opportunity for you to do safety-checks on all of your children’s devices. You should know every username and password, and you should not be afraid to use them. This is when you should also make sure your kids are being safe online and with what they’re texting. Are you familiar and comfortable with the apps on their phone? Are they participating in any bullying behavior? This, my parental friends, is what you do during these safety checks.
Create Opportunities for Everyone to WANT to Put Down Their Devices
Think back to your childhood: the days before the ever-present screens. What did you enjoy doing? Did you play board games? Play catch in the backyard? Did you make Lego creations and Play-Doh masterpieces? Are you creating opportunities for your family to want to connect and put their devices down? If not, try to implement a few into your daily routine.
Eyes Up, Phones Down
Give the people you love your whole face. Create a rule not only for your children, but also for you that when someone is talking to you, your eyes go up and your phone goes down. It’s a great habit for all ages to adopt.
Lead By Example
I saved the most important for last. Have you ever heard the saying that your actions speak louder than your words? This is extremely true for leading by example with technology.
I spend a large amount of time in schools speaking to kids, and every time my biggest takeaway is that kids feel like their parents are addicted to their phones.
Parents, did you hear that? Your kids want you to put down your devices and pay attention to them. They are outing for you. If you want them to put down their device, trust that they won’t if you can’t.
These five steps are an excellent place to start for knowing how to help a child with screen addiction, and by doing them you will see a significant change in your home. Just remember that we are all human and every family is different. If five steps feels like too much, start with one. Just start somewhere!
Take what works for you and tweak it as needed. Somedays you will excel at these steps, and somedays you will go to bed and realize you broke every single rule. The beauty is that you always have a new chance tomorrow to do a little better.
Whatever you do, don’t do nothing, just because you can’t do everything!