Today we will talk about a common problem for many parents: our children’s addiction to phones and technology.
What comes to mind first besides the phone when you think of addiction? If you ask me, I think the first thing that comes to mind would be cigarettes. Smoking is an addiction, isn’t it? So, what is addiction, and how do children become addicted?
Addiction is related to happiness hormones. When we do something good for ourselves, our brain releases happy hormones, making us want to do it again. Yet it also tells us: If you want more happy hormones, you have to give me more of what you’re doing. And the more cigarette packs are, the more hours we spend on the phone. Addiction is also a habit.
If you ask me whether the addiction problem in our children can be solved, I will say yes. Not only me but thousands of people who have recovered from addictions and parents who have helped their children. If the addiction has gotten to the point where it is bothering your child and those around them, it may mean you need to help your child as much as possible. Let’s take a look at what you can do to reduce your child’s phone addiction.
1) Support them in starting with small steps:
Suddenly telling someone who is used to spending all day on the phone never to pick up the phone again is unreasonable and won’t work. But if we ask someone who spends 6 hours a day on the phone to spend only 5 hours on the phone for a week, it will not be too difficult for them to do so. By suggesting that they reduce these hours every week or every two weeks, you can help your child gain a new habit.
2) They can turn off phone notifications:
Ask your child if they have ever unlocked their phone to check a single message, and then hours passed without them noticing. Game notifications and social media notifications on the phone distract your child, which can negatively impact them in the long run. It would be helpful to turn off notifications to avoid this affecting them.
3) Have them keep the phone away from their bed and desk:
Keeping the phone near while studying is likely to distract them, so they may think they’re bored when they’re just not paying attention. You can suggest that they leave the phone out of easy reach during study hours and reward themselves with the phone after studying. Similarly, they should be able to put their phone away when they go to bed. They can use old alarm clocks if they need it for an alarm.
4) Make sure they keep themselves busy:
Keeping busy with sports, spending time with friends, playing a favorite instrument, helping around the house, etc., will reduce the need to use the phone. If they say these activities don’t give the same pleasure, remind them that this will only be the case in the beginning and in time, they will also give pleasure. Studies show that such activities also release happiness hormones over time.
5) Let them use the phone as a prize:
Ask them to play a game with their mind and say to themselves: “I will reward myself with the phone after I complete this task.”, “I will pick up the phone after I do this, not now.” This way, they won’t deprive themselves of something good for themselves, and they will feel better and more successful when they complete the tasks they need to complete.
6) Remind them that they can always ask someone for help when needed:
If your child says they want to learn a new habit and spend less time on the phone, remind them that they can always ask for help from people close to them, including you. When they use the phone too much unintentionally, they can always request a friend or a parent to give them a gentle warning. Sometimes they might give their phone to someone and ask the person to put it somewhere they don’t know during their break times.
Encourage your child to fill in the table chart down below. What are the pros and cons of phone addiction, in their opinion? What do they gain and lose by spending too much time on the phone? Let them write down a few points. In the end, let them evaluate and decide whether they want to make a new habit and reduce their phone use.
Spending too much time on the phone:
POSITIVE SIDES / NEGATIVE SIDES
I want to spend less time on the phone now because…
HOW TO REDUCE PHONE ADDICTION TO DO LIST
Have them keep the poster below within an easy reach. At the end of the day, ask them to mark which of the following they have done. If they have done more than half of these, they can reward themselves with something they like at the weekend.
☐I spent one hour less on the phone this week.
☐I preferred to do sports, attend an event, and spend time with friends instead of spending time on the phone.
☐ I gave the phone as a reward to myself after completing a task, not before.
☐ I turned off notifications on the phone.
☐ I used apps that distracted me less.
☐ I put the phone away while studying.
☐ I gave the phone to myself as a reward after studying, not before.
☐ I put the phone away before going to sleep, not next to me.
☐ When someone warned me about the phone, I heeded the warning.
How many did I do?
The reward I would give myself: ______________________