Monday, October 22, 2018

Kids Cellphone Addiction - Parents Tips to Cope

Parenting


Guest Post by Amy Scholl
Youth Tech Safety Specialist
KidGuard.com


Is Your Child Nomophobic? How to Handle Cellphone Addiction as a Parent



In this age of smartphones, selfies, and social media mania, many parents often scoff at the idea of phone addiction. It seems like something that really shouldn't be a problem. After all, how hard could it be for a kid to put down a 5 ounce piece of metal, plastic and circuits for just a moment? 




The answer is ‘incredibly hard" -- especially for millennials in their early twenties as well as preteens and teenagers who eat, sleep, go to school, and hangout with friends without letting their devices leave their sides for even a second. Actually, it has become such a huge and widespread problem this increasingly common behavior has earned its very own fancy name. Known as nomophobia, it's defined as the fear of being away from one’s phone.


Serious Side Effects of Cellphone Abuse


What makes nomophobia such a serious issue are the broad ranging effects it has on kids and others. Unchecked, it can potentially affect all aspects of your child’s life from their health to things like school, work, friends, and family relationships. Cellphone addiction affects the central nervous system, causing headaches, lethargy and even reduced immunity. It also causes eye strain. In fact, according to a 2018 UK survey by independent opticians, 55% of phone users complain of significant eye discomfort after prolonged use.

Compulsive smartphone use also affects kids' relationships with family and peers. Constantly looking down at devices prevents human interaction, resulting in social awkwardness and poor adjustment to life when it comes time for them to leave the nest. Just as alarming is the negative impact phone addiction has on road safety. A 2018 National Safety Society study reports 1 in 4 vehicular accidents are currently resulted to texting and receiving phone calls, which is common, particularly among teenagers. 

Psychological issues like anxiety and depression are often directly linked to excessive cellphone usage, too. This is especially true with the frequent misuse of social media platforms by young people. With things like cyber bullying and the constant craving for attention and approval from both kids they know as well as complete strangers, there is a likelihood that this addiction will take its toll on your child's mental health.

Cellphone addiction statistics also show a direct correlation between reliance on cellphones and productivity at school. Children addicted to their gadgets tend to have lower concentration spans, lower energy levels and a general inability to remain interested in school and other activities.



Key Signs of Kids Smartphone Addiction 


First, before you can deal with it, you need to learn to identify the problem. Kids display phone obsession in a wide variety of ways, however here are the most common basic clues to watch for as you observe your son or daughter.


The cellphone becomes an emotional crutch 

Cellphone addiction and depression go hand-in-hand in more ways than just an obsession-effect manner. If your child immediately runs to his or her phone when distressed then it is a sign of an unhealthy attachment.


Loss of enthusiasm for offline activities 

Why don’t you go out and play? Do you want to join us for a walk? Could you run a small errand for me at the mall? More often than not, you will be left disappointed if you ask a phone-addicted child any of these questions or others like it. They would literally rather sit inside all day texting, browsing or whatever else than go out for whatever reason. 


Physical pain and strain 

Another way to identify phone addiction in a child is constant complaints about pain. It could be anything from headaches and neck pain to wrist strains. 


Withdrawal symptoms when the cellphone is not there 

Don’t expect anything dramatic here like fits or excessive sweating. These are subtle and include things like anxiety, restlessness and moodiness. Another thing to notice is how they react and if they panic when they've misplaced their phone temporarily.


Irregular sleeping patterns 

If your kid’s interaction with their phone affects their sleep then they are most likely addicted. You will find them up at odd hours of the night staring at the alluring screens. It is a common sign with very serious repercussions. 


Phantom calls and messages 

This is when a phone user constantly checks their phone for messages or calls even when they haven’t been notified of any activity. It is a continuous game of flip the phone in excitement and flip it back in disappointment.




5 Ways to Help Your Child Kick the Phone Habit


TIP # 1
Get your son or daughter to accept the problem. Adults are not the only ones in denial about nomophobia. In order to rectify the situation, it is best to get them to see how this habit is affecting them and how things might get worse if ignored. 

TIP # 2
Encourage your child to make friends. Some kids find solace in their phones to escape the loneliness they feel. If they only had friends to play with they would be distracted enough to no longer rely fully on their phones to fill in the emptiness. 

TIP # 3
Involvement in a tasking hobby. Keeping your child busy will also help reduce their addiction. Get them involved in activities they enjoy whether it is art, music, sports or even animal care. 

TIP # 4
Have phone-free times and places in your home. A 2017 study shows up to 60% of people use phones in bed. Children are no exception. To deal with the addiction set apart areas of your home, including bedrooms, as no-phone zones. Also establish a cellphone schedule that only permits kids' access at specific times of the day or week. Then, monitor your child’s cellphone to make sure they follow your rules. 

TIP # 5
Literally shut the phone up. Putting the phone on silent mode can also help reduce phone addiction. According to Deloitte in 2017 this trick works 30% of the time, but it is still worth a try. 


About KidGuard


KidGuard, who's primary goal is to protect children online, is dedicated to finding the best child safety measures for parents, grounded in research. Being knowledgeable about youth online usage is a key component of effective 21st-century parenting. Learn more by visiting KidGuard.com and by following them on Facebook and YouTube.

No comments: