Kids Addiction to Social Media and How to Counteract

Tech Addiction: Real or imagined

Nine-year-old Haryana boy slits his arm because his parents took away his mobile phone — Are we comfortable reading this?

Is the term “Tech addiction” real? How different is it from Alcohol addiction or substance abuse? Should we be really adding addiction to technology?

Just because you do not eat or drink it does not make technology any less addictive. A recent study done by Common Sense Media finds that more than half of the kids feel that they are addicted to their phones.  Almost 60% parents agree that their kids are addicted to a mobile device.

Ashok Gurung who is a student at Gandaki Boarding School says

“ You are addicted because social media are designed to addict you. Your time is their success and you are not alone in this addiction.”

Eye-opening findings from the survey include the following:

  • Addiction: 50% teens feel that they are addicted to their phone; Almost 60% parents believe that their kids are addicted.
  • Frequency: As many as 72% teenagers and 48% parents think that they need to respond to texts, social-networking messages, and notifications asap; 69% of parents and 78% of teens check their devices at least hourly.
  • Distraction: 77% of the parents think their kids get distracted by their devices.
  • Risky behavior:56% of parents accept that they check their mobile devices while driving; 51% of teens observe their parents checking/using their phone while driving.

The kids start as young as 8-9 years old. In fact, some parents feel proud when their toddler can lock and unlock the phones without taking any help from them. They do not realize that it is a beginning of a much bigger problem.

Along with the addiction comes the withdrawal symptoms, irritation, panic, feeling of worthlessness, and Fear of Missing Out FOMO.

Instead of playing tennis on a court, kids play tennis on their devices sitting on their beds. Instead of playing scrabble, kids are seen playing online snooker. How is it helping the kids?

Identifying the Addiction

  • Anxiousness, Irritation, and restlessness away from the mobile device
  • Sleep deprivation and stays up late to play or watch videos on the mobile device
  • Little or no interest in activities like playing with friends, reading books or even TV
  • Neglects school work and important assignments

Nipping it at the bud

  • Smartphones and kids

Identify the kid’s actual need for a smartphone. If it is to remain connected, a regular phone will do. For school work in lower classes, encourage the kids to finish work at school or borrow someone’s notebook or bet get it photocopied. Trust me it isn’t urgent. In higher classes, well, supervision is the key.

  • Time-out

Have a family time without the technology. Play any physical game, Ludo and snakes and ladders are good too! In fact, tic-tac-toe will do as long as it’s not on a device.

  • Role model

Be a role model, limit being unnecessarily on a phone/tablet. Children usually emulate their parents. Take up sports, games, reading, craft actively at home and involve the kids too.

Kids’ addiction to Social Media and How to counteract.

The dependency of kids on the social media is on a rampant growth scale nowadays. Though the internet serves with an abundance of knowledge and entertainment, it takes away something far more important … the social skills of your kid.

The ever-changing and influencing media that is in your kid’s hands is much more powerful than you might think. The content, written or digitally shot can be of high influence and holds the strength to change the point of view and opinions of your kid. Services like email and Facebook allow the end to end communication which is great for conversations every now and then, but it becomes an addiction after a while. The convenience makes your kid isolate themselves and go straight to the anti-social phase. Ironical, right?

It’s not that social sites only cause harm to your kids, they are a boon when it comes to certain aspects.

In some cases, the internet and social media actually help out a lot, like research and keeping up with the pace of the world. It is a boon if it’s used to that extent, which it often crosses.

The use of social media is now an addiction, the likes, shares, and comments are far more important for kids than having an actual conversation, or a game of football in the park.

Drifting them away from the Internet: Big Parenting Decision

When you see your kid roaming around with a gadget in his hand and smirking at some content on the screen, which is probably inappropriate for his age anyway… that’s when you take the gadget away and encourage him to read or some other activity.

Your intuitions will often try to tell you that your kid has developed an addiction for the social sites on which he is ironically losing all his actual social skills. When your intuition gives you a ring to ask your kids to stop wasting their time on the darn phone, trust it. That’s a parenting decision, right there.

The effects of too much internet burn deep into the habits and behavior pattern of your kids.

Ignoring this or being too lenient can cause a regret that you will have through the teenage of your kid.

Too many Social sites can cause insomnia and even disorders, to discuss all the negative aspects of social media we have enlisted them below …

The effects of too much Social Media/Internet

  1. Development of Hate Speech

Sites like Facebook and Reddit have put your kid at a greater risk of generating or suffering from hate speech which is very frequent on these sites. Kids can learn discriminative and hateful languages from these sites and the worst case scenario being expressive about that in the real world among people. Children are too young to understand the morals that we have polished till now against caste and religions but the internet gives a way to that dark area with ease.

  1. Cyberbullying will hurt you more than you think

Cyberbullying often leads to something more complicated than just a brawl of words in the chat window. The threats can harm your kid’s mental health and terrify him to his core. Let’s not forget the type of *fake* accounts which lure novices in some discussion and turn the barrel when the person refuses to agree with their opinion. Yes, even this can lead to cyberbullying.

This can lead to shattering of opinions, being afraid without a reason and possibly depression because of the negativity around them.

  1. Gadgets bring insomnia

The time and emotional investment kids put in social media are surreal. Kids nowadays would wake up in the middle of the night just to make sure they are logged in and are not missing any texts from their friends. This causes insomnia, and insomnia brings many other disorders along with it.

Bedtime is the worst time to use technology and kids are too naïve to understand that, they have fallen for their bright screens and fast internet, they couldn’t ask for more. As parents, you should make sure to keep their phones with you in the night and make sure those are switched off too.

  1. Identity theft – the biggest problem ever

This goes to the top rank when it comes to social media problems. Kids, especially teenage girls should take of this problem and report as soon as they encounter things of such nature.

The privacy settings should be turned up to the highest security. Posting harmless photos is a good idea, and making sure you don’t give out a lot of information about yourself as it can be easily copied and applied onto a fake account with your name on it, or worst yet, your kid’s name.

  1. Cyber-stalking: The Dangerous Harassment  

Stalkers have taken things up a notch and their obsession has caused many families to suffer and sometimes take severe steps after falling victim to such criminals. The harassment that follows is complex and vulgar to its extent. This is a factor that leads to identity theft.

  1. Misinformation with resultant violent Imagery

The political views of people, which are totally based on one agenda i.e. to provoke people and create a buzz about the political party. We as adults understand this, and we don’t let it influence our thinking and views … but our kids are not adults yet.

Sites like Facebook can influence them to a different globe altogether, with false information and violent images. This can lead to building your kid’s nature to be sadistic and biased, which of course; no parents want for their ward.

  1. Sharing too much

The ideas and the opinions we have are our standards to live by. Sharing them in a group of wise people is a great idea, they will agree with your opinions and when they don’t, they contradict with reason. Facebook might not be a place to share such opinions. Sharing too much on such sites will cause only problems with people who don’t understand your views, leading to the birth of more hate speech and threatening.

  1. Pedophiles are there

This might be sensitive to read, but this is the ugly truth, Pedophiles, and their presence. Most of the fake accounts are created by sadistic people and pedophiles to lure innocent kids. They post friendly images, try to talk to children and ask them to “come to play with their kids” and as we all know it, tragedy strikes after that.

  1. Negative Emotional Implications:

Social media sometimes shatters self-esteem and confidence by its rude and unkind tone. Not having enough friends or likes on their posts can dig a hole in their heart and harm their confidence. It is sad that their confidence depends on such things, but that’s how it is.

  1. Lack of Interpersonal Skills:

Kids substitute their “online” emotions with their real ones. Spending too much time on social media sites can make them lose track of their normal emotion pallet and drift towards just some basic reactions.

This makes their interpretational skills suffer and may cause them to change their outlook on society.

  1. Users Vulnerable to Crime:

Email frauds, identity theft, mistake-clicking and the list goes on and on… these crimes are targeted for novice people and young kids. Stalkers and teams of criminals follow the most active users and send them luring offers to click on their sites and before you know it, you are trapped into one of the most complex and weird crimes known to man.

Your digital identity is far more important than you think; keeping it safe should be your prime concern. And also, don’t put sensitive information anywhere on the internet, it will be duplicated and misused.

  1. Effects schooling

Cheating in exams is one of the worst problems Social Media has encouraged. The leaks are now popular in a matter of seconds and so are the cheat sheets. Honest schooling can suffer from excessive social media use. You must have read the news and come across many cases of such nature.

What steps to take: –

  1. Set a bedtime for your kids.
  2. Keep their gadgets with you in the night.
  3. Keep a keen eye on their browsing history.
  4. Having a background check on your kids’ Facebook friends is a good idea.
  5. Respect their privacy but keep a lock on harmful pages and sites on the internet.
  6. Ask them to spend some time with people and friends around them in the real world and connect with their actual emotions.
  7. Avoid giving them access to their identity proof so that they can’t put them on the site.
  8. Let them know about sadistic behavior around them and how to not let the negativity affect them.
  9. Don’t let them form political opinions from a young age and prevent them to fall for someone’s views and biased agenda.
  10. As usual, let them know that there is a green world outside of the digital world they have created for themselves. Indoor and outdoor games, picnics and family outings can help them forget to check their login status and likes on their posts.

Kids are smart nowadays, but not in the way we want them to be. Adults know what is harmful and unfortunately, we can’t be explicit about them in front of kids. But, we can simplify the language and let them understand the difference between good and bad.

Social media is a tool for our ease, getting addicted to it is a sure shot sign of trouble. Taking healthy measures to prevent some harmful vibe surround you digitally, can increase the mental health of your kid and the security level of your conscience.

The aspects as discussed above are mostly negative, but that doesn’t mean to prohibit your kids from using the internet at all. Introduce them to harmless sites and activities which are appropriate for them and is informational at the core. The Internet is crucial nowadays, let them keep up with the rest of the world, but keep an eye on their path and their companions, it takes very little time to get sidetracked and lose senses here.

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