If you are a parent you may already know this; that 53% of children over 11 years in the US today own a smartphone. We now live in a society that’s been made small by the smartphone. It’s evident by the increased sales of smartphones and other gadgets.
The surge in phone ownership and the increased screen times among teens and tweens has led to increasing concerns from parents and experts alike. The truth is these days, kids simply aren’t able to put their phones down. But what can we expect when adults are the very same?
For most parents, their smartphone is the last thing seen before falling asleep, and the first thing that will greet them upon waking up. During the day, parents are constantly checking their phones, which are typically bombarded with never-ending notifications from all sorts of accounts and social media platforms.
It’s abominable. So how can we expect our kids to act any differently? It’s a familiar sight; teens glued to their screens, unable to glance up for even a moment when speaking to an adult. As children and teens increasingly spend an insane amount of time on their screens, parents and concerned parties are now wondering how safe this habit is for their wellbeing.
A growing amount of research states that there is a reason to worry. Teens who are addicted to their electronic devices are 71% more likely to commit suicide than those who refrain from regular phone use. Teens that are constantly on their mobile phones are also less likely to sleep as well as more likely to fall into depression as a result of unrestricted social media use.
Given these dire consequences of overuse, it has become clear that setting a time limit on mobile phone use is an important aspect of modern parenting that cannot be ignored. But how you get your kids to look away from their screens? Here are 5 tips and tricks to make your kids spend less time on their mobile phones:
Incorporate more outdoor activities
If you want your kids to spend less time on their mobile phones, then you need to create opportunities for them to explore outside the virtual realm. The best way to do this is to plan outdoor activities that will teach them new and valuable skills.
It can be any activity- swimming, camping, and interactive sports such as ping pong are an excellent choice. Of course, if you’re going to engage your kids in an activity, it may be a good idea to invest in the right gear and equipment. As such, if you do decide to go with say ping pong, get a ping pong table to make it more worthwhile.
Set a good example
As the parent, it is your responsibility to set an example that your kids can emulate. Kids are perceptive and the ‘’ do as I say, not as I do’’ mantra is one that doesn’t apply to children. If you want them to spend less time on their mobile phones, then you need to practice what you preach and set a good example.
This means that if you are incessantly checking your phone during family dinner or you cannot seem to escape using your phone during family outings, then you need to adjust your behavior. Plus, the more you are absorbed in your device, the more likely your kids are to act out. As such, it may not look like it, but they are watching your every move and imitating your phone use.
Have a conversation about responsible phone use
To make the transition a little easier, make sure that you talk to your kids about responsible phone use. Even they have opinions about the subject and would like to contribute to the discussion about phone use in the house. Not only will this let them understand why you’re limiting their use, but it will also help you all to get on the same page.
Ask them to describe what appropriate technology looks like in their eyes and what sorts of consequences should be in place if rules regarding phone use are broken. This way, you can help to guide them and allow them to feel as though they are part of the decision-making process.
Start a project that involves the entire family
When kids are actively involved and engaged in activities that they enjoy, they are probably going to be less interested in what is trending. Consider starting a family project that you can work on together with your children regularly.
The actual nature of the project doesn’t really matter as long as it is something that the child enjoys and one that will allow some high-quality bonding time. It could be anything simple as starting a veggie garden in the back yard or building a simple shed or birdhouse.
You may be tempted to ban mobile phones in your household for good, but that will only make matters worse. Mobile phones aren’t all bad- they can be a great educational tool when used correctly.
Plus, you know you won’t admit it straight away, but they buy you a few minutes of alone time whenever you’re going through a hard day. Allowing your children to use their mobile phones and earning you some much-needed rest is fine. Just make sure that they are consuming some educational material and not just twiddling their thumbs on games for hours on end.
Limiting your kids’ screen time might sound like the preamble to an epic parent-child argument. However, getting your kids to spend less time on their mobile phones may not be as challenging as it may first appear.
The good news is that most teens and young people are already aware of some of the dangers and negative effects of spending too much time on their phones. As a matter of fact, because they typically feel a constant pressure to respond instantly to texts, posts, and DMs, your child will likely feel more relieved than angry at the welcome break.
But don’t just adopt a cold turkey strategy. Start the process slow, limiting their mobile phone use gradually until you establish a reliable pattern. Phones should be tools that we use, not tools that use us.