How to Detect & Treat Screen Time Addiction

Technology has become a part of our children’s daily lives, from using tablets and laptops for school work, to cell phones that allow them to stay connected at all times. While tech skills are increasingly important in our society, devices don’t come without drawbacks. Many parents are finding that their children are spending much more time glued to their screens than is healthy. Let’s take a closer look at how to detect and treat screen time addiction in children:

Showing signs of withdrawal

One effective way to detect if your child is struggling with screen time addiction is to observe how they act when you take away or limit their use of a device. They may actually show both physical and mental symptoms of withdrawal, as shocking as that might seem. It goes beyond just a simple temper tantrum or angry fit that lasts for a few moments before the child moves on. Withdrawal symptoms include shaking, headaches, anxiety, and even depression.


Needing more and more screen time

Your child used to be okay with having 30 minutes of screen time per day, but now they want more. Each day they linger longer on their device, only giving it up when you have to insist that their time is up and they must turn it off. Just as an alcoholic requires more and more alcohol to satisfy their addiction, screen addicts will also require more time on their device.

Losing interest in other activities

Children should be engaged in a broad range of activities, from school clubs to sports to just playing outdoors and spending time with friends. If your child starts to spend more and more time inside, alone, and on their device, it is a cause for concern. Screen time addicts will lose interest in the activities that they once enjoyed, opting instead for more time watching, playing, or just wasting time on their devices.

Declining performance in school

Another big sign that there may be a major problem with your child is if their school performance starts to decline. They may be skipping assignments, losing focus, and starting to get lower marks on tests. Their teacher may notify you of their poor performance in the classroom, or may have to let you know that their assignments aren’t being completed correctly or on time. Poor performance in school can also indicate other issues, so it’s important to take it into account with other signs of screen time addiction to be sure of the cause.

Related: How Parents Can Limit Screen Time for Their Kids

Treating screen addiction

Once you see these signs and realize that your child may be struggling with an addiction to their devices, it’s time to take action. Help them by limiting their use each and every day. You may have to take their devices from them and hide them away. Encourage them to engage with their friends and to participate in their favorite activities again. It may not be easy to wean your child off of their screens, but it is necessary for both their physical and mental health.