My daughter (7) received an iPad as a Christmas gift from my parents so they could always FaceTime since they are living overseas. But my ex and her mom do not monitor her screen time because they don’t want to make her upset,” stated the concerned dad.
He added that this lack of monitoring has led to his daughter spending unlimited time on her iPad.
The dad shared that while he thought it was normal until her seventh birthday a few days ago when she didn’t talk to any children who were invited. The birthday girl was only playing the online game Roblox and would throw a tantrum whenever her iPad was taken away.
He saw this as a red flag and posted his problem on Reddit, asking for a solution from fellow users on how to break screen addiction for his seven-year-old child.
How To Break Screen Addiction: Parents Offer Solution
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Much to his relief, other parents poured in their suggestions. Most of them felt that a child’s screen time needs to be monitored and also suggested ways to set strict limitations.
1. Set limits or just take it away
Many felt that it is important to set limits, be it fixing their digital exposure time to taking the devices away if they are not listening.
A user said, “It’s crazy that she was allowed to be on an iPad during her own birthday party. Children at that age cannot self regulate so it is the parents’ responsibility to well, parent.”
Another chimed in, “I don’t think that tablets are bad. I think they’re fine. I think some kids just really struggle to handle it. It was best for my kid to just not have it at my house.”
2. Ignore the whining
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This mum also had a different solution. She wrote, “All kids act like addicts on devices. You have to set boundaries/limits and ignore the whining. They all do this if you let them sit on screens with no limits.”
3. Provide alternatives
There were some parents who suggested that the child needs to be provided with an alternative.
She wrote, “Simply reducing the time spent on the iPad leaves a void. Provide your child with some alternatives.” The aim is to basically keep those little brains engaged and entertained.
5 Signs That Your Child Is Addicted To Devices
Your understanding of how to break screen addiction begins with identifying the signs. As they say, too much of anything – good or bad – can be harmful and so is the case with gadgets, right?
If you are sailing in the same boat as this dad, we can understand your apprehensions. But first, it’s important to understand some signs in your child that can help you to identify if the junior is a digital addict.
Here are some tips that you can use to break your child’s screen time addiction.
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1. Loss of interest in other activities
If your kid is only excited with his or her “tablet time” and is reluctant in doing other fun activities, you need to take note. It is a sign which speaks about their addiction to digital devices.
2. When it interferes with socialising
Your child is addicted to digital devices when you find them sneaking often to their tablets while someone tries to make a conversation with them. When screens start to interfere with family activities, it can be a warning sign.
3. Constantly talking only about technology
While there is nothing wrong with being passionate about certain vocations. But if your kids only talk about technology, games and/or when are they going online next, it is not exactly healthy. They should be able to switch off from digital devices. If they are struggling, it is a red flag.
4. When they are deceptive about it
You have asked your child to switch off their electronics and go to bed. But in the middle of the night you find them sneaking a tablet into bed at night or if they are lying about how long they’ve been playing a video game, you need to be worried.
5. Withdrawal symptoms
There can be some withdrawal symptoms in your kids the moment you take the devices away from them. From throwing tantrums to getting irritated. But the moment they are back online, they turn calm. It is advisable to check your kids for signs of agitation, anxiety and irritability in their kids for these symptoms.
London-based Consultant Adolescent Psychiatrist Dr Richard Graham recommends ”72 hours for a digital detox” if a parent is concerned that their child is addicted or on the road to addiction. Obviously, they will react and show signs of distress, but it is important that parents don’t give in.
He says, “You know your child so if something feels really wrong, trust your instincts and seek help.” Essentially, you need to think of ways to keep your little ones busy and distracted from the devices.
3 Practical Tips On How To Break Screen Addiction
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1. Spend more time with your kids
We understand that this may look difficult, but kids are generally more attracted to devices when they are alone and have nothing to do. Make it a routine to spend quality time with them. Be it playing with their toys or going for a walk together, your kids will love it.
2. Limit the number of gadgets at home
As parents, we often end up pampering our kids, which eventually does more harm than good. It is also very important to limit the number of gadgets which you have at home. Your child doesn’t require the latest version of the iPad or every game. Make rules and most importantly follow them yourself.
3. Keep gadget-free time
Your child needs to enjoy the real world and appreciate it as well. So keep strict rules like ‘no mobile time’ during lunch/dinner or one hour before going to bed. Apply these rules even when you are out on a holiday or for any socialising event. Your kids require real interactions for their mental and overall growth.
Finally, praise every little effort made by your child and take extra care when reintroducing technology back into their lives.
Exposing our kids to digital devices is very exciting, they get to learn and become deft in typing, but too much exposure can have a negative effect. Excessive screen time has been linked to lack of sleep, speech delays and also poor social skills. So balance is key.