We have got used to seeing adults glued to their phones at social events and teenagers spending hours locked in their rooms with their laptops. While we may not give this a second thought, at what stage does the use of digital devices become a problem? Is technology addiction impacting our lives?
The word addiction used to be associated with substance abuse, but now it includes other problematic behaviours, such as gambling and stealing. Technology addiction is a behavioural problem caused by the excessive interaction of humans with machines.
People are in the habit of checking their social media profiles and emails and binge-watching their favourite TV series.
Technology addiction is still not included in the international classification of diseases and mental disorders. However, experts recognize that there is a difference between the general use of technology and unhealthy use linked to social, physical, and psychological problems.
Some Benefits of Electronic Devices
Clearly, there are benefits of electronic devices for age-appropriate activities that used to be done offline in the past. Some activities include:
- Listening to music
Digital devices allow children to listen to music of their choice wherever they are.
- Exploring individual interests
Children access the Internet to explore their interests and connect with others who have the same hobbies.
- Doing school assignments
The Internet is like a huge library that helps children to do research and complete their school assignments.
- Watching television and movies
Children can go online to find and view educational and entertainment videos and movies.
Social media allows children to interact and maintain relationships with friends and like-minded people from across the globe.
Problems with Overuse
Some of the problems children face due to the overuse of technology are outlined below:
- Psychological problems
The excessive use of technology can cause mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety. It can also reduce self-confidence, life satisfaction, and emotional stability.
- Not getting enough sleep
Children who are addicted to social media and gaming tend to be tense, unable to relax, and sleep deprived.
- Social skills
Spending more time with a phone than in face-to-face interactions causes social withdrawal and hinders the development of social skills.
- Eyesight problems
Too much screen time can cause blurred vision, headaches, discomfort, and eyestrain.
- Inactive lifestyle
A child who spends too much time in front of a screen may lack physical fitness and develop musculoskeletal problems.
Electronic devices carry more germs than toilet seats, so they spread infection and cause disease.
Looking at electronic devices while doing other things like walking and driving can result in accidents and injuries.
Symptoms of Overuse
Children who are addicted to technology may display the following symptoms:
- Constantly glued to their digital devices
- Getting upset when they are unable to access their devices
- Not showing interest in other activities
- Preoccupied and not listening while using devices
- Talking about online activities when they are not using devices
If your children are showing these symptoms, help them to overcome their technology addiction while they are young. They may stop listening to you as they get older, and may be stuck with these habits as adults.
Strategies to Control Overuse
Some of the things you can do to wean your children away from technology addiction are mentioned below:
- Replace device use with other enjoyable activities
- Make a list of things that must be done before device time
- Reduce device time gradually instead of stopping it abruptly
- Replace content instead of stopping usage
- Prioritize device use that has a positive impact
- Set boundaries and a daily period when there is no device use
Gradually introduce changes that will help your children to overcome technology addiction while they are young. Encourage them to spend more time enjoying activities that involve face-to-face interaction with peers.