Are your kids addicted to the internet? How much time do your kids spend looking at a screen instead of interacting with family? Parents might want to consider taking steps to limit the amount of “screen time” that their kids are getting.
The New York Times has an article by Jane Brody in which she discusses the negative affects that countless hours of playing video games can have on children. It’s not just teenagers, either. Younger kids can also behave as if they are addicted to “the internet”.
How does this happen? There is a Kaiser Family Foundation study that was done in 2010 that appears to point to a problem. “On a typical day, 8- to 18-year-olds in this country spend more than 7 ½ hours (7:38) using media – almost the equivalent of a full work day, except that they are using media seven days a week instead of five.” It goes on to point out that some kids are using two forms of media at the same time. (For example, they watch TV while playing a game on their phone).
That’s a lot of “screen time”! It is getting in the way of personal interaction between family members. Conversations aren’t happening because everyone is looking at a screen while eating dinner or going for a drive. It’s harder for parents to know what is going on in their children’s lives if they never have an opportunity to have some conversations about it. Technology is a poor substitute for social interaction.
What can parent do to prevent their kids from developing an “internet addiction”? One way is to limit their amount of screen time. The younger the child, the less screen time he or she should have. Take an active role and help your kids to discover that there are some really fun things to do in the “real world”, too. Take your kids to the park, the library, or to local museums.
Make it a rule that no one is allowed to use their phones (or other electronic devices) in the car on the way to school (or on the way home from school). Parents are going to have to take an active role to get their kids to talk. Ask specific questions about their day. “What was the most interesting thing you learned today?” That’s a better question than “How was school?”, which most teens will answer with “fine”.
Parents should play video games with their kids. Your kid gets to share something she enjoys with you, and can teach you how to play. Parents have the opportunity to initiate conversations about concepts that pop up in the game. In other words, the video games are not the problem. The problem is that a lot of kids play them in isolation.
Related Articles at Families.com: