Any attempt to prevent and treat social media addiction in the youth is no mean feat. It is a tough undertaking that needs systematic planning. Still, it is no reason for concerned parents to hold back. With a clear strategy and good parenting styles, the goal is achievable.
Social Media Addiction & Symptoms
Social media addiction refers to a compulsive disorder or irresistible urge to use social media at the expense of everything else. The victim feels utterly hopeless and lost when disconnected from online interaction with friends and apps. While it is not necessarily classified under the same category as smoking and alcohol addictions which are well documented, this form of addiction exposes its victims to several consequences.
In particular are the following negative effects on children and youth:
- Health disorders
- Digital malpractices
- Adult and violent content
- Distorted image syndrome
- Social misplacement
- Low self-esteem
Before trying any nasty tricks, it is smart on the part of the parent to get a clear picture of social media addiction symptoms. Your child is probably becoming addicted, and needs help when one or all of the following social patterns happen:
- Using social media for extended hours
- Talks and interacts less with real life friends
- Uses social media at mealtimes
- Always refers to social media updates
- Is withdrawn without an online presence
- Fails to accomplish studies, chores and other responsible activities
- Develops eating disorders while using the smartphone
5 Smart Tricks Parents Can Use to Treat Social Media Addiction
1. The Parent As a Role Model
It is a good practice to look in the mirror and not throw the first stone when it comes to shaping the life of the growing child. Ensure you are not an addict yourself or are not on the road towards addiction. It is easy to play omnipotent when it comes to parenting. Quite often it is taken for granted kids should obey and accept everything thrown at them unconditionally. While this is tasty to say, it really is not insightful until backed up by actions: for actions speak louder than words.
Smart parents should not use social media irresponsibly. For starters, they should not:
- Bury themselves on their smartphones instead of accomplishing productive duties.
- Use social media at meal times.
- Share inappropriate posts, images, and other files.
Instead, they should use social media with sound goals and for purposes that make sense even to children. The kids are monitoring parent actions closely and using the lessons learned as buildings for the years to come.
2. Seek Alternatives to Social Media
It is important to find out if boredom is part of the reasons kids are embracing social media to the extremes. Plenty of pass time activities exist that otherwise offer positive and physical nourishment to the well-being of children and fight boredom.
Instead of devoting unmetered attention and time on social media and its side effects, it is wise for parents to help kids seek alternatives for distractive purposes. Parents can challenge children to list down a host of outdoor activities they would rather do but are unable to because of one reason or another. This should not be used as an excuse to ditch social media but to explore the mindset and creative side of children. Children living in urban settings find less room for outdoor excursions but can find it with the help of parents.
There are many popular activities that children miss out and will most likely to love doing. They include:
- Outdoor games and activities
- Board games
- A visit to grandma and grandpa in the country
- Reading and writing
- Site seeing over the weekend
Do not stick to one but rather expound on a variety of activities, and the earlier this starts the longer it will become part of your child’s life to adulthood.
Endeavor to fulfill their dreams by implementing these and you will be amazed at the results.
3. Enforce Family Routines
Often times, the failure to have a structure that governs the manner in which a family operates is what leads to children doing whatever they want. It is made worse when parents fail to intervene because they do not know how.
A family that creates and sticks to schedules is better placed to fight social media and other addictions which result from the above. Parents can use the routine thing to have planned mealtimes and control how electronic gadgets feature in the big picture. This way, children learn to accomplish tasks in a disciplined structure rather than compulsion.
Several domestic activities can be planned and observed by everyone at home, including children. These include;
- House chores
- Outdoor activities
- Prayer times/convocations
Mealtimes should be respected and attended by everyone at home. This allows for fulfilled eating and parents are able to monitor eating disorders in children. The routine presents opportunities to break social media addiction if it exists and create a responsible mindset in the growing children. They learn the value of doing everything at the right time, including the use of social media.
4. The Pep-Talk and Small Treats
Parents must make it a point to sit down the children and cordially discuss the good and bad of social media. Get them to understand these platforms are double-edged swords designed to promote themselves for financial and data mining gains.
They need to mind what they respond to via likes and comments. These should apply only when necessary and adds value to their well-being. The responses should not be about pleasing anyone, just for the sake, and furthering insensitive Facebook and Instagram data mining. This may remarkably reduce extended hours.
Discuss the value of face to face interactions over exploitive virtual connections even with unknown persons. The young persons need to understand what negative effects await them if they embrace social media without much thought.
Some of these include:
- Eating disorder
- Insufficient sleep
In addition, the young users may want to consider implementing these:
- Turn off push notifications when in alternative activities
- Avoid following every trend and star
- Be aware of stalkers and strangers
- Talk to real life friends about the effects of social media on their lives and how they cope
If your smart tricks fail to produce results you may want to refer the child to professionals.
5. Use Digital Health Tools
Various tech companies have come up with digitally engineered tools to curb the social media addiction. You can use one or the other or all and see the results.
- Dolmio Pepper Hacker
Besides the culinary tasks, specialized Dolmio tools can be used to shut down mobile phones, WiFi gadgets and TVs all at once.
- Ikea’s Dinner hotplate
The Ikea dinner includes a hotplate which only works after users around the dinner have fed it with their phones.
- Time Limit Tools
Facebook and Instagram announced tools to help curb the unmetered use of these services. They include an activity dashboard, daily usage reminder, and notification muting features.
Apple and Google are set to do the same.
The Final Word
When all is said and done, social media is a complementary and necessary evil in the 21st Century. It has brought the world together by enabling instant communication and has become integral in fostering learning. Users only need to understand and use it responsibly. If parents career their way smartly on the issue of social media addiction they may not actually need to enforce any rules at the end of the day.