technology addiction

Are You Making Your Kids Addicts Without Even Knowing It?

Studies are now calling screens digital heroin and electronic cocaine. Recent brain imaging research shows that screens affect the portion of the brain which controls functioning and impulse control — it does this exactly the same way that cocaine does. Translation: when looking at a scanned image of a drug addict’s brain and a kid who uses screens you cannot tell the difference. [Tweet This]

When you give your kids access to screens you are giving them something that impacts the way their brain functions, even their ability to control their impulses. This negative impact of screens should at least make us think twice about giving them unlimited access and free reign. Here are the 4 steps to remedying this technology addiction in your kids.

1. Have a screen detox

It takes about a month to detox from any addiction. I have to say in our personal experience that’s dead on. We’ve had to do a TV detox before and it’s about four weeks before things are back to normal. I suggest you doing the same especially if you are at that point where you are having troubles with your kids that just aren’t the typical challenges.

Set the screen detox expectations with your kids and keep it. If an exception has to be made for schoolwork, give guidance and set a timer. Remember when the detox is over, don’t go right back to giving them the same access that caused the need for this detox in the first place.

2. Limit screen time

Our kids aren’t allowed to have screens during the week with the exception of a couple educational shows after they’ve completed their daily school work.

If your kids are using screens for their schoolwork, then this becomes especially crucial. Set a limit for your kids (besides the necessary amount on schoolwork) and see how their creativity and behavior improves.

3. Limit screen locations

Additionally, their screen use is confined to a public room in our house. This means no phone charging in their bedrooms overnight, laptops are used in the living room, etc. Being consistent with this is important. This also gives you the opportunity to monitor their use and will curb any usage that is not approved.

Occasionally over the summer we became a little too relaxed in some of these areas, and it became a battle to get them to get them back in their regular routine and habits of limited screen use. Avoid this mistake with your kids.

4. Create alternative screen options

We recently started this with our sons, ages 6 and 10. We started with Uno cards. Now, when they get bored we’ll find them laughing and playing a game of Uno. We even taught our youngest son how to work on his math facts using Uno cards. Additionally, they have an over-the-door hanging basketball hoop to play with when they get tired, a stack of books from the library always nearby, and a cabinet full of board games.

Remember, our screen as children was being outdoors. So, send them outside to play. It’s a scary thought to think that you could be giving your child something that is leading them to become an addict. I encourage you to make a change for the sake of your child’s health.

Sound Off

What kind of boundaries do you set up for your kids around screen time?

Jackie Bledsoe

Jackie Bledsoe is an author, blogger, and speaker, but first and foremost a husband and father of three, who helps men better lead and love the ones who matter most.

  • Patrick

    I think it’s a little overstatement that “our screen was outdoors.” My screen was an Atari 2600!

    Our primary measure for screen time is “is everything else done?” That’s the entry point. Then there are 30 minute limits with 30-60 minute breaks between.

  • Greg Lane

    Can you supply these studies? Me an my wife worry about this but I also know that things are never really as bad as people say they are. As Patrick says his screen was an Atari 2600, I work with many people who grew up with nothing but gaming as their main past time along with comic books. They seem to have turned out okay. I have read a couple articles addressing the old adage of the “tv rots your brain” but it actually has become ingrained in the culture and is major tool in learning now along with screens. Controlling the content is what we should be more concentrated on when being used.

  • David McConahay

    Great article as my wife and I were just talking about this just the other day. Our 6 year old loves tv and anything with a pad, speakers and a screen…lol! My wife picks up the kids every day, and thats when the screen time starts. Then it continues when they get home for some ninja turtles or what ever is on ha…we need a plan and we need to stick with it.
    This article was spot on and we are going to start our plan today – THANK YOU!!!!

    • Thanks for transparently sharing, David! You are not alone, and you can do it. I’m rooting for your guys!

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