Social media addiction refers to a compulsive disorder or irresistible urge to use social media at the expense of things that truly matter in life.
The victim feels utterly hopeless and lost when disconnected from online activity with friends and apps.
While it is true social media addiction has not been classified under the same category as smoking and alcohol addictions, this modern-day disorder pre-disposes its victims to the following and other side effects:
- Health disorders such as tech neck and thump pain
- Digital malpractices such as cyberbullying
- Adult and violent content
- Distorted image syndrome
- Social misplacement because of FOMO
- Low self-esteem
Before trying out any nasty tricks, it is smart on the part of the parent to comprehend the symptoms of social media addiction.
Your child is probably becoming addicted and needs help when one or all of the following social patterns begin to 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- Is withdrawn without an online presence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 and other chores
- 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 walking the addiction road yourself, or even worse, you are not an addict already. It is easy to play omnipotent when it comes to parenting and quite often taking kids for granted.
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 mealtimes.
- 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 your 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.
Instead of devoting unmetered attention on social media and its side effects, it is wise to help kids seek alternatives for distractive purposes. 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 completely but to explore the mindset and creative side of children.
There are many popular activities that children miss out and will most likely 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.
3. Enforce family routines
Often times, the failure to have a structure that governs domestic routines is what leads to children doing whatever they want. It is made worse when parents fail to intervene because they do not know how to.
A family that creates and sticks to schedules is better placed to fight social media and other addictions. Parents can use the routine thing to have planned mealtimes and control over the usage of electronic gadgets.
The following and other domestic activities can be planned and observed by everyone at home:
The routine presents opportunities to break social media addiction if it exists and create a responsible mindset by doing everything at the right time.
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 designed to promote themselves for financial and other gains.
Children should mind what they respond to via likes and comments, and apply only when they add value to their well-being.
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 disorders
- Poor sleep
In addition, young users may want to consider implementing these:
- Turn off push notifications when in alternative activities
- Avoid following every trend and celebrity
- Be aware of stalkers and strangers
- Talk to real-life friends about the effects of social media on their lives and how they can cope
If your smart tricks fail to produce results you may want to refer the child to professionals.
5. Use of digital health tools
Various tech companies have come up with digitally engineered tools to curb 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 on social media addiction
When all is said and done, social media apps are probably evil, yet in the 21st Century. They bring the world together through instant communication, and they are integral in fostering learning.
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. Children only need to understand and use it responsibly.