From cell phones to tablets to laptops, kids of all ages are engaging with devices at earlier ages, and for a variety of reasons. It’s not unusual to see toddlers intently watching a cartoon on a handheld device, or to see a teen texting rapidly as they walk down the street. Digital devices are simply becoming an integral part of our everyday lives, for better or worse. Parents need to be aware of what addiction to screens and technology looks like today, and what they can do to combat it. Here are 4 signs that your child has screen time addiction:
Angry outbursts when screen time is over
Time spent using a digital device or watching television should be managed carefully by parents. If your child has angry outbursts when their screen time is up for the day, they may be addicted, or growing addicted to screens. They may throw a fit, slam doors, and act in ways that are irrational, simply because they’re no longer able to have their device. If your child reacts angrily, consider giving them several days off from technology to encourage healthier behavior.
Preoccupied with and obsessing over screens
Another concerning signs of possible addiction to digital devices is a preoccupation with them. Inability to focus or enjoy anything else that isn’t related to a screen should be concerning. Kids may talk obsessively about a game that they want to continue playing, or something that they want to continue watching on their device. They might seem agitated and uncomfortable without having their cell phone or tablet in their hands.
Skipping out on activities they typically enjoy
If your child is shrugging off the activities that they once enjoyed, like playing outdoors with friends, going to the park, or even just reading a book or playing with their toys, it should be cause for serious concern. Occasionally choosing to stay indoors and play a game or watch a show on their tablet probably isn’t a big deal, but if it becomes a regular occurrence, that isn’t good. Regularly skipping out on fun activities and time spent with friends is a sure sign that your child is addicted to digital devices.
Noticeable physical changes and health impacts
A child who has screen time addiction may undergo some noticeable physical changes. They may gain weight if they’ve been spending more time indoors, sitting in front of a screen. The lack of physical activity can be apparent in their overall appearance. Their skin may start to look paler if they haven’t been spending time outdoors. They also may appear to lose weight if they’ve been neglecting eating properly in favor or playing video games on a device.
Parents have a responsibility to monitor and restrict their children’s use of digital devices. Limiting screen time can be a challenge, especially since many teens today have their own cell phones, and even young children use tablets and laptops for both school and recreational activities. That’s why it is so important to set limits on using devices at home, and enforce them strictly. By limiting the amount of time that kids spend glued to a screen, parents can help them adjust to a world that is increasingly reliant on digital technology.