04 MAY

Does my child have a technology addiction?

Family Wellbeing, Parents & Carers, Personal Development, Student Wellbeing, Technology

Mobile phones – we love them! Mobile phones in the hands of our children – hmmm?

There are lots of advantages with phones, but when considering their prevalence - what is really happening for our children? Mobile phones are fabulous but we also need to recognise the dangers associated with their overuse. At NAC we want our children to have a healthy relationship with technology. We also want our children to read books, climb trees, speak to people face-to-face, kick a ball, think, relax and create music. We want our young people to be able to put down their phones and interact with others.

Many parents have wondered about when to give their child a mobile phone. How old do they need to be? Certainly, at school mobile phones are becoming more prevalent and we are seeing children wanting to spend more and more time on their devices. This is problematic. Mobile phone use can impact negatively on human interactions and individual wellbeing. I would recommend that you make sure your child is mature enough to handle the responsibilities associated with a phone. This is usually when they are in their teens.

I am sure parents have asked the questions:

  • How much time is too much time on social media?
  • Is mobile phone use impacting my child’s sleep?
  • Is mobile phone use impacting my child’s wellbeing?
  • Is mobile phone use changing our ability to relate to others?
  • Can my child become addicted to technology?

Perhaps we, as adults, should ask the same questions about our own mobile phone use.

Because most people now carry mobile phones everywhere and use them 24/7, we have become accustomed to sending out messages, questions and demands on the spot and expect an immediate reply, response or action. People sit in meetings tapping away at their mobile devices and catch up on phone calls while walking to and from the bathroom. Technology has turned us into rapid-response junkies. In our clouded state of ongoing everyday stress, everything seems equally important and time-pressing and we require others to share our sense of urgency.

We are becoming conditioned and accustomed to the pings on our phones, to the number of likes and views of our posts. Every time we receive a bip, our brains receive a small hit of dopamine and dopamine is incredibly addictive.

If you reach for your phone first thing in the morning, or perhaps your child is staying up late for fear of missing out on what is going on with their peers, then perhaps there is an addiction developing to your mobile phone.

While parents may be nervous about their kids' technology use, not every meltdown after turning off the device is indicative of addiction. Because technology is such a big part of everyday life, Anya Kamenetz, author of “The Art of Screen Time,” encourages caregivers to think of technology use like food:

“What do we do when we want to create a healthy food culture in the home? We have limits. We have structure around food. We don't just eat anything at any time. There are routines and habits.” she said.

Can I recommend that parents place limits and create habits around their children’s mobile phone use?

  1. At bedtime, have your children place their mobile phones on the kitchen bench. Allow them to sleep all night, without the fear of waking to a message at 2:00 in the morning.
  2. At dinner, insist on technology free meals. 
  3. Place filters on your children’s phones so they cannot access pornography or other inappropriate sites.
  4. Resist the temptation to send your child a message during the school day. You would be surprised by the number of parents who are sending their children messages during the day. We want our children to be totally engaged in their learning.
  5.  Put the mobile phone away during homework time. Every message or ping received during homework, causes an interruption to the flow of thinking. It takes at least 20 minutes to focus on the school work again.
  6.  Know what social media apps your children are using and find out the latest crazes.
  7. Don’t be pressured to give your child a phone when they are too young. Hold off providing your child a phone until they are in their teens. Consider 15 years of age.
  8. And finally, model healthy use of technology yourself. Show your children that you are able to read books, engage in face-to-face conversations, exercise and be engaged in hobbies.

At NAC, we are currently looking at our young people’s mobile phone use and we are wanting your input and our students’ input into what is useful and what is helpful. This topic is being discussed through our student leadership teams and our Student Representative Councils. 

We want our children to be the best versions of themselves. As we partner with you, we are committed to support you to teach your children to have healthy technology habits which will help them learn and aid their wellbeing. Please reach out to our Pastoral Care staff if you need support with your children’s technology use.

Mrs Lorrae Sampson

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing”.
1 Thes 5:11

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