What Are the Red Flags You Should Be Watching For?
In the past, good parenting included:
- knowing where your children were
- who their friends were
- what they were doing when you were not with them
Imagine a parent telling their teen on a Friday evening to go wherever they wanted and you would not be checking on them until they came home. I don’t need to know who you are hanging out with or what you are doing.
Sounds ridiculous right?
Things haven’t changed but now when kids use social media, parents often don’t know where they are at for hours at a time, what they are doing and who they are with! How do you know if your child is becoming addicted to their mobile device? What should you do?
I actually have a very positive attitude toward technology. I can’t imagine life without my iPad and smartphone. Children born after 2010 will never live in a world without smart devices with new technology being developed every day. It is truly amazing.
It is certainly being responsible to stay informed about the possible effects of technology on our children. As parents, we have to pay attention to the possible dangers because that’s our job. Is really true that technology is making kids anxious and depressed? Realistically the digital world hasn’t been here long enough for any definitive answers. It is a good thing that studies and research will continue to guide parents to keep their children healthy and safe. There is software such as KidsWatch to help parents as well.
Every couple of weeks, I hear my co-workers talking about a new way kids are interacting with social media! How can parents possibly control what social media sites their children and using, who are they chatting with, and who is chatting about them?
A recent survey found 47% of parents worry their child is addicted to their mobile device. By comparison, only 32% of parents say they’re addicted themselves.
According to the survey, 89% of parents believe it’s up to them to curb their children’s smartphone usage.
How Do I Know if My Child is Addicted to His or Her Smartphone?
Let’s start with young children. An article about children’s health from the University of Michigan reported on new research that focuses on children between the ages of 4-11. Dr. Sarah Domhoff, who conducted the research writes:
How young children use screen devices, rather than how much time they spend using the devices, may be the strongest predictor of emotional or social problems connected with screen addiction, new research suggests.
Here are 9 warning signs of screen media addiction in young children
- Unsuccessful Control: It is hard for my child to stop using screen media.
- Loss of Interest: Screen media is the only thing that seems to motivate my child.
- Preoccupation: Screen media are all my child seems to think about.
- Psychosocial Consequences: My child’s screen media use interferes with family activities.
- Serious Problems Due to Use: My child’s screen media use causes problems for the family.
- Withdrawal: My child becomes frustrated when he/she cannot use screen media.
- Tolerance: The amount of time my child wants to use screen media keeps increasing.
- Deception: My child sneaks using screen media.
- Escape/Relieve Mood: When my child has had a bad day, screen media seem to be the only thing that helps him/her feel better.
Addiction in Teens
Addiction is a disease and there may be an addiction to electronics in general. Think of people fixated on their smartphones, tablets, or television screens. It is a way of life for all of us, including you and me.
Katie Davis, assistant professor at the University of Washington whose research explores the topic, found that,
although there is currently no official medical recognition of “smartphone addiction” as a disease or disorder, the term refers to obsessive behaviors that disturb the course of daily activities in a way that mirrors patterns similar to substance abuse.
Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Teen
- Does your child become intensely anxious, irritable or angry when their phone is taken away?
- Is your teen skipping or not attending social events because of time on their phone?
- When spending time on a smartphone is personal hygiene or sleep affected?
- More cause for alarm is lying, hiding and breaking family rules to spend more time on their smartphone.
Davis goes on to say:
“Instead of becoming overly fixated on teens’ smartphone use in general, it is important to think about “what are the applications on the smartphone and how is your particular child using the applications on that smartphone,”
Parental guidance is necessary to curb or control screen time. As a result of her research she recommends:
Helpful Suggestions for Parents
- Make a Plan
- Take time to establish guidelines and come up with a family agreement including how and when the phone can be used and what the consequences will be if rules are broken
- Monitor Use
- Parents need to do their best to understand how, where and why kids are spending time on their phones. There are Apps to help parents track usage and display time spent on each app visited. Installing KidsWatch can help monitor time. Also read, this amazing resource, 10 Tips to Make Your iPhone and iPad safer.
- Take Time Out
- Apple’s Family Sharing and Google Play have settings to help parents monitor use, and most phone carriers have their own parental control options. Devices like Circle and apps like OurPact give parents the ability to automate access, disable access to certain apps after a certain hour and build in structured time off to promote rest. Remove the phone from the bedroom at night.
- Be a Role Model
- Parents trying to set healthy guidelines should consider their habits as well. 46% in a recent survey believed they could not live without their smartphones
Is Youtube for children at any time? My personal opinion is NEVER without direct supervision.
Youtube is a very popular go-to site for kids looking for directions on how to play a game like Minecraft or Chess and click onto something violent or adult-only videos.
YouTube does try to help parents protect their kids by removing or restricting video inappropriate for children. A USA TODAY review found dozens of sexualized or violent cartoons that weren’t restricted to adults, and that were only taken down or made to require a user give his or her age after the news site notified YouTube of the links.
What are some steps parents can take to control what their young person views on Youtube?
Go to the Settings section of YouTube (click your icon, top right, and click Settings) and enable the restrictive filter, which Google says will make for a safer, family-friendly experience.
Disable Recommended Videos
This is important because even Google notes that with its endless loop of suggested videos based on your watch history, “sometimes your child may find content in the app that you may not want them to watch.”
You may be uncomfortable with your kids seeing an endless array of sugared cereal and toy ads with their videos. You can pay YouTube $10 monthly for a subscription to ad-free YouTube Red, or use an ad-blocker. There are many free ones available on the web.
YouTube Kids App
YouTube designed the mobile app as a safer place for kids under 12, and says some 11 million use it monthly. The videos chosen are based on the age of the viewer. Parents can also set up specific profiles for their kids.
On YouTube, it’s easy to pull as many as 50, if not more, of parent-approved cartoons into one playlist, a collection that will never be infiltrated by rogue content. To create a playlist, click the + sign underneath a video for “Add to.” Click create a playlist, name it, and then start curating content for your kids this way. Create multiple playlists for your kids, and you’re now a programmer.
YouTube is NOT for Kids!
YouTube says the channel is for teens and adults only. (Hence, the separate YouTube Kids app.) “If you are under 13 years of age, then please do not use the Service,” YouTube says. “There are lots of other great websites for you. Talk to your parents about what sites are appropriate for you.”
Adapted from Computer World By Jeff Kagan,
It’s About Balance
Children are naturally curious and want to learn, and what they want to learn, they learn fast. We want to help them reach their full potential. Our kids are very smart at a very young age and we want to support them. Final tips for parents:
- Keep up with learning new technology and sites your kids are using
- Install parental control software on all of your devices
- Install a security suite and teach your children how to be safe online
- Teach healthy habits by scheduling specified times of the day or week a device may be used and how many hours.
- Keep kids involved in sports, socializing with friends in real life, and even homework.
(This post may contain affiliate links, view our disclosure policy for details.)
KidsWatch is an award-winning software to help you keep your child safe online.
I know we all agree technology opens doors for our children that give them opportunities to learn, be creative, critically think, explore, and communicate in a way we could never imagine.
Being a role model is not easy in this digital world. Do you live a Healthy Digital Lifestyle? Take a survey and get a free checklist.