Social media addiction describes your child’s compulsive and irresistible urge to use social media platforms at the expense of important tasks at home and school.
What happens is that apps and virtual friends become your child’s best friend, and he or she is hopelessly lost when disconnected from the internet.
When this misadventure continues for long and without control, many undesirable things can happen.
This modern-day addiction pre-disposes your child to the following and other side effects:
- Tech neck and thump pain
- Digital malpractices such as cyberbullying
- Exposure to adult content and sexual predators
- Exposure to violent digital content present in many games
- Risks of distorted image syndrome
- Social misplacement because of FOMO
- Risks of low self-esteem
It is also important to first understand the symptoms of social media addiction. Only then can you figure out the best approaches to solving them.
Your child is probably addicted and needs help when he/she
- uses social media for extended hours
- has limited interaction with real-life friends
- uses social media during mealtimes
- always refers to social media updates
- is sad without internet connectivity
- fails to accomplish school work and tasks at home
- develops eating disorders
5 smart hacks to treat social media addiction
1. Become a role model
It is a good practice to look in the mirror and not throw the first stone when it comes to judging your child’s indulgence in technology.
Ensure you are not walking the addiction road yourself. It is easy to play supreme, and taking kids for granted.
Smart parents should not use social media irresponsibly. For starters, you should not:
- bury yourself on your smartphone instead of accomplishing productive tasks
- use social media at mealtimes
- share inappropriate posts, images, and other content
Instead, try to use social media with sound goals and for purposes that make sense even to children. Your children monitor how you interact with technology, and use the lessons learned as building blocks of what to do in the ears to come.
2. Seek alternatives to social media platforms
It is important to find out if boredom is the reason your child is addicted to social media to the extremes. This is one of the major reasons children readily embrace technology.
Plenty of pass-time activities exist that otherwise offer positive and physical nourishment to the well-being of your child.
It is wise to help your child seek fitting alternatives. Challenge your child to list down activities he would rather do, but is unable to due to one reason or another.
This should not be used as an excuse to ditch social media altogether, but to explore the innovative and creative side of your child.
There are many popular activities that children miss out on and will most likely love doing. These include:
- Outdoor games and activities
- Board games
- A visit to grand parenst in the country
- Reading and writing
- Site seeing over the weekend
Do not stick to one activity. Experiment on a variety of them to find out which of them will become part of your child’s life in the future.
3. Enforce family routines
The lack of a structure that guides home routines is often what leads to youngsters doing whatever they want. This is worsened when you as a parent fail to intervene because you do not know how to.
Instill family values centered on discipline, time management, and productivity.
A family that creates and sticks to schedules is better placed to fight social media addiction and other challenges at home.
The following and other domestic activities can be planned and observed by everyone at home:
- House chores
- Outdoor activities
- Prayer times/convocations
The routine presents opportunities to break social media addiction if it exists, while helping your child develop a responsible mindset.
4. Opt for pep-talk and small treats
As a parent, make it a point to sit down with your child and discuss the good and bad in social media overuse. Get him to understand that these platforms are double-edged swords by big corps, aimed at promoting themselves for financial and other gains.
Discuss the value of face-to-face interactions over exploitive virtual connections, especially with unknown persons. Your child should understand what negative effects await him if he embraces social media platforms without much thought.
Your child should also mind what he responds to via likes and comments, and apply them only when these add value to his well-being.
Some of these include:
- Eating disorders
- Poor sleep
In addition, your child may want to consider exercising the following:
- Turn off push notifications when doing other activities
- Avoid following every trend and celebrity
- Stay clear of stalkers and strangers
- Talk to real-life friends about the effects of social media on their lives and how they can cope
5. Try out a set 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 notice if they are helpful.
- 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 gadgets and apps are necessary evils in the 21st century. They bring the world together through instant communication and are helpful in fostering learning.
As much as many of us want to limit smartphone use to an absolute minimum, it is important to consider the values they add to life today.
If we all watch what we do on social media, we may not actually need to enforce any rules. When everything is done correctly at home, children will naturally learn to use technology responsibly.
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