Minors use 36% more screens than before pandemic. In fact, the time they spend on social networks has increased by 76% compared to 2019. Only on TikTok, their favorite social network, they spend 75 minutes a day, and the consumption of communication applications (such as WhatsApp) has increased by 49%.
It is data from the report Apps and minors: a year trapped behind the screens, presented by Qustodio, after analyzing the digital habits of 100,000 families with children between 4 and 15 years old in Spain, the United States and the United Kingdom.
Have reasons to be concerned or we are simply becoming excessively alarmed for a novelty that is beyond our control? Is the phone mobile ruining an entire generation?
In 2018, the Government included addictions to new technologies in the National Addiction Plan, considering them “a ‘substance’ harmful to health, comparable to drugs or alcohol and where the most affected are young people between 12 and 17 years old. “. And the Spanish Observatory on Drugs and Addictions warns that the 27.8% of minors present compulsive mobile use.
How to prevent our child from getting hooked on technology
All experts agree that if we want to prevent our child from getting hooked on technology, the best tool is prevention. In this sense, the ANAR Foundation offers mothers and fathers some guidelines that we can put into practice to prevent our children from getting hooked on technology. These are some of them:
It is important that we keep up to date with the advances offered by technologies in order to know in which world our children are moving and to be able to accompany them and help them use them with meaning. To be left behind is to be left out, without the possibility of offering our children the control and security they need.
Don’t leave them alone
It is not about spying on what our children are doing, but it is about supervising and, in order to do so, it is essential that they use them in a common place in the house, so that we can know the time they spend hooked on the screens and personally supervise the content they use. Therefore, computers, mobile phones, tablets, televisions, in common areas of the house, never in their rooms.
Rules, norms, agreements …
To avoid excessive and inappropriate use, it is essential to establish, together with our children, consensual rules for using technology. In this sense, it should be remembered that the American Pediatric Association and the WHO recommend 0 screens up to 2 years of age, and that after that age, children and adolescents should not spend more than 1 or 2 hours a day in front of screens, trying to consume quality content as much as possible.
Offer him other opportunities
The danger of technology is not only in how it affects its use, but also in the amount of activities that our children stop doing when they are using them. In this sense, if we remove the screens, we must offer them possibilities to use their leisure time. Thus, it is interesting that we teach them the importance of interacting with their peers in person, doing sports activities in a group, the attractiveness of reading … In addition, the time spent as a family planning activities, visiting family or friends and going to new places , will teach them the positive of personal contact and the alternative use of healthy leisure. Dedicate an important part of our time to them is basic.
“27.8% of minors have compulsive mobile use”, according to the Spanish Observatory on Drugs and Addictions
Set an example
For our children to learn to use technology responsibly, it is necessary for us to use it responsibly. If we tell them that it is not good to spend many hours connected to computer games or chatting, the logical thing is that we do not do it. This is a key point. Many times mothers and fathers find ourselves unable to instill this good use because we are not capable of doing it.
Browse, chat and play with your kids
What is the ideal age to allow our children to drive a car? The good answer is not a specific age, but: “when they have a driving license”. Well, something similar happens with technologies. At the beginning, until our children know how to use it responsibly and have developed their critical thinking and are responsible for their actions, it is essential that they always use it in the presence of a reference adult. Accompanying them is also important to know what their tastes are and to prevent them from using games or inappropriate information for their age and stage of growth. In addition, it is important to establish filters so that they cannot access all types of pages and content.
Teach them to love and accept themselves as they are
Fostering healthy self-esteem in our children from an early age will help them accept themselves as they are and relate to others safely. Thus they will not seek to “take refuge” behind a fictitious image that they will invent on Social Networks.
Teach him to organize his time
They need our guidance and accompaniment to acquire the habit of study, work and adequate responsibility to become independent and responsible adults in the future. In this way, they will also have important aspects of their life to take care of in addition to being “connected”. Teach them to be careful with their sleep hours, without interruptions.
Separate them from mobile!
Not only in class they must respect the school rule not to use the mobile, but also during study times. In addition, we must not make the mistake of using technology to calm a tantrum or to entertain them while we do other things. The use must be for a specific purpose, not to fill time or as “nursery”. It is very important to understand that addiction to new technologies is directly related to the time spent using them.
Pass on safety and risk information to help them use critical thinking
In the same way that when our children are going to start leaving home alone we explain to them that they should not go with any stranger, it is essential to explain the dangers that can be found in social networks or the Internet. There they will come into contact with people they have not met in person, and they must learn to distrust many of the published content and know the risk of providing personal information … And, most importantly, if they have a problem, let them know that can talk to us, because we will always be willing to help you.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.