These recent years, many parents have come to me regarding their children’s so-called “cyber-addiction.” They speak about how addicted their children are to their electronic devices. Their children, while looking at their devices, hardly pay attention to them, look to them in the eye, or are able to read their emotions. There is little or no more active family interaction as a result of this device addiction or “digital dementia.”
According to Digital 2016 report by a Singapore-based social media agency, the Philippines is #1 in the list of 30 countries on time spent on social media. It says Filipinos spend about 4 hours a day using social media, followed by Brazilians at 3.3 hours, and the UAE at 3 hours. The report says Filipinos surf the Internet on their computer or tablet for 5 hours and 21 minutes each day, and on the mobile phone for 3 hours and 14 minutes. That’s a lot of hours fixed on the screen!
In other countries, the problem of cyber-addiction and digital dementia has become severe or serious enough that they have specific facilities to detox and rehabilitate young people who can’t control their use of their devices. Indeed, the negative psychological effects of the overuse of technology can be likened to behavior patterns of drug addicts. I think many of us can experience it ourselves to a certain extent when engrossed with our devices.
If you’re a parent of a cyber-addicted child, what can you do? Here are some possible “therapeutic” steps that may be undertaken:
* exercise appropriate parental controls on the use of their devices, which may include taking away the devices to which they’re addicted in certain situations
* in some cases, rather than restrict or control the use of the devices, having healthy conversations and fun time with your child can be more effective
* you provide the child information on how technology can affect the brain
* be an example yourself to your child of the type of behavior or moderation of use of technology you’re enforcing on him or her
* be kind, empathetic, and patient when you have to confront our child about the problem
* try to help them to get into other activities, such as sports, social events or groups, arts, or other productive substitutes
* engage in activities you and your child both enjoy
* make time to connect with your child on a meaningful level, such as talking about what’s going on inside them, talking about feelings rather than criticizing or lecturing to them
* develop traditions in your family life that’s fun, memorable, and positive that will make devices less attractive