We’ve all been there before. The kids are screaming and fighting, the laundry has piled up and is the size of a small mountain and it’s already 2PM. And the kids haven’t even had breakfast. At times like this, tablets and smartphones seem like a godsend. Give the kids a screen to stare into and you’ve just bought yourself the quiet you need to get things moving.
Sounds good, right? Well, not exactly. Everything comes with a price, and in many cases too much screen time can definitely be a recipe for disaster. Specifically, we’re speaking about screen addiction. While you may have earned a few hours of not having to deal with the kids, too much screen time can lead to dangerous, compulsive behaviors that have a negative effect on your kids’ well-being.
Screen addiction is defined as “compulsive screen use that leads to impaired daily function in productivity, social relationships, physical health or emotional well-being” (Horwood & Anglin, 2018). This means that too much screen time is harming your kids’ schoolwork, negatively impacting social relationships, interfering with sleep and causing unhappiness. It’s not your kids’ fault — the chemicals in our brains can be too much for even adults to deal with.
So how do you know if your kids are addicted to their screens? There are 3 main indicators of addiction that you should watch out for:
Cravings. We all know what cravings feel like. A constant reminder from your brain that you are in need of something. In the best case it’s chocolate, but in worse cases it can ruin your life. Cravings are hard to resist, but are easy to identify. You’ll notice that your child has a craving for the smartphone screen when they become preoccupied with spending time on their phone. They’ll constantly ask for permission, even if it’s at the expense of activities that they usually enjoy.
Tolerance. Like any other addiction, your child will build up a tolerance for screens as they become more and more addicted. This means that if they were once happy with half an hour of YouTube, they’ll suddenly need more time in front of the screen to satisfy their craving.
Withdrawal. If your kids suddenly become angry, irritable or depressed when you take the screen away from them, they’re probably experiencing withdrawal. The best way to confirm this suspicion is to give them back the device. If the feelings they’d just been experiencing instantly disappear once they’ve got a screen in front of them, you can be pretty sure that they were going through withdrawal.
FamilyKeeper offers parents technology to help them combat screen addiction. Alongside the powerful parental control features that alert you to problematic online behavior, FamilyKeeper also offers solutions for controlling the amount of time your kids spend in front of their screens.
Awareness. FamilyKeeper provides you with highly detailed, real-time reports about what your kids are doing on their devices. These reports show you how many hours a day they are staring into their screens. By understanding how long your kids are on their devices each day, you’ll be able to establish a healthy limit that’s right for the whole family.
Set up limits. Use FamilyKeeper to limit screen time. You can choose when it’s okay for them to use their phones — probably not best during school hours — and even set up a daily limit. Once you have healthy limits in place, you can rest assured that your kids aren’t abusing their devices.
FamilyKeeper helps you become a better digital parent by giving you tech-powered tools that keep your kids safe when they’re online. Advanced monitoring across social media apps and messaging platforms alerts you to any problematic behavior from strangers or friends, while in-depth reports and usage tools help you establish a safe digital environment for your children.