You know how we are all going around joking about being addicted to technology? Well, that may not be such a joke. Our technology actually can be addictive as it causes reactions in our nervous system that mimic the reactions caused by other addictions, such as alcohol, drugs, gambling or food. Kids and teens have no idea that they are experiencing addictive behavior when they throw a fit when it is time to put away the phone or step away from the video game, but that is why their reaction is so big.
Here are a few things you can do to help your child, or yourself, unplug from technology and minimize that addictive effect:
- Turn it off. This sounds ridiculously simple, but we have a really hard time just turning off the phone, tablet, or TV. Set aside specific times every day where these items are turned off.
- Silence your ringer, put it in your pocket or purse, and don’t pull it out. DO THIS WHEN YOU ARE DRIVING! And I don’t mean put it on vibrate. Literally silence it and put it somewhere that you can’t see it. It is the little notification sound or flash on the screen that effects our nervous system. If we don’t know that is happening, we are less likely to care. A few other times you should probably do this include date night, family time, vacation, and bedtime.
- Limit the amount of time spent on devices, especially for kids. But then give them something to do instead. And guess what? They are going to whine, complain and think you are stupid. Do it anyway. They can go outside, read a book, do chores, talk to a human being that is in front of them, walk the dog. It doesn’t matter what the choices are, but setting limits for kids is really important. Their frontal lobes aren’t developed yet. They don’t know how to set those limits for themselves.
- Plug in your phone in a room other than your bedroom. I hear the excuse all the time, “But it’s my alarm clock!” News flash: They still make alarm clocks! You don’t even have to use your phone for this!