It’s unlikely that your kid will become addicted to technology. A person with an addiction can’t stop doing something that is extremely harmful, despite severe negative consequences. But you’re right to be concerned. According to a Common Sense Media poll, 50 percent of teens say they “feel” addicted to their mobile devices, and 59 percent of parents “feel” their kids are addicted to them. Still, experts aren’t sure whether true, physical technology addiction exists (although the American Psychiatric Association has identified “Internet gaming disorder” as “a condition of interest”). And if it does, it’s very rare. More likely, your kid may have problems balancing technology with other parts of his or her life.
Problematic technology use is a growing concern. You can help avoid it by showing your kids how you want them to use technology. Let them see your own healthy habits. Set rules for how much technology they can use during the week. Share what’s important to you.
These ideas can help your family figure out how media and technology can be a part of your family’s healthy lifestyle.
- Create media free-zones and times. These will be different for every family, but you can consider making phones off-limits at the dinner table, before bed, and in the car, when important conversations can happen.
- Limit multitasking. Multitasking makes it harder to focus on one thing and can be harmful to face-to-face conversations.
- Do family activities. Take time for tech-free activities. A simple walk around the block or a game of hangman can bring you closer together.
- Co-view and discuss. When you can, try to watch shows or play games with your kid. Kids whose parents take part in their media lives make better choices and spend less time with media.
- Talk about the pressure to respond. Nearly three-quarters of teens feel pressure to respond to their mobile devices quickly. While friends and online socializing are super important to teens, not every text is critical. Discuss how they could break the habit, perhaps by responding once an hour to all messages instead of constantly being at the ready.
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