10 Things You Can Do To Fight Your Child's Addiction

Parents are experiencing greater frustration with a lack of cooperation from their children. If they would just realize that managing screen time would alleviate a big part of that problem.

It’s like a drug, they can’t get enough.  They’ll mysteriously forget about homework assignments just to get it.  They’ll fight you tooth and nail not to lose it.  It’s one of the biggest issues that reduces cooperation for many parents and if they could, they would pass up sleep and food just to have more of it.  What I’m talking about is entertainment media for children, and it is highly addictive.  It’s also referred to as SCREEN TIME and it exists in the form of video games, television shows, computer usage and the Internet, and it must be controlled, supervised and allowed in moderation.  If parents would just understand and implement this, they would get a bonus of more cooperation from their children.  Chores would be done as planned and homework would be completed as agreed.

I was hired as a parent coach by a family recently.  At our first meeting, they listed the top five challenges they were experiencing with their oldest child.  This 10-year-old was not coming to the table for dinner when called, not following through with her chores, and not doing her homework after school as she was instructed.  My first question was, “So what is she doing instead?”  The parents responded with, “She’s playing video games.”

I asked these well-meaning parents two questions: “how would their little girl know that it’s time to do these things?” and “ if you remind her when it’s time, how do you do that?”  Their first responses were, “she should know enough to do it,” and “we keep reminding her of what she must do.”  My first response to them was that you can’t expect a child to know when to do something when the addictive activities that call to her are not managed and limited.  Nor can you expect yelling, reprimanding, and reminding to work either.  All this does is send the little girl into “parent deafness” and drives her to continue to ignore her parents.

According to a recent article that appeared on numerous news Web sites, British research is warning parents that too much screen time in childhood will lead to a greater level of screen addiction as they mature.   Watching something can have the same chemical effect in the same regions of the brain as substance abuse and gambling.  These activities result in the release of the ‘feel good’ chemical Dopamine that acts as the reward for doing something you enjoy.  This leads to the drive in the brain (addiction) to want to engage in the addictive behavior more often.

There is well-established literature showing the adverse effects of screen experience on the cognitive development of children under three and, as a result, the US Pediatric Association has recommended no screen time before this age.  As children get older, screen time should be managed and allowed in moderation.  Too much screen time can interfere with being physically active, reading, doing homework, spending time with family, and even playing with friends.  Experts have even tied screen time to problems with attention span in children.  It’s becoming such an issue that technology addiction centers are beginning to pop up around the country.

The sad realization is that parents are providing handheld devices more freely and at younger and younger ages.  While out to dinner one evening, I noticed a family of four at a nearby table.  The children appeared to be about six and eight years of age.  Everyone was glued to an iPhone or some sort of handheld screen the entire time they were at the restaurant and hardly anyone spoke during that time together.  This common incident is proof that families are losing the connection they need to bond and to develop healthy communication.  When I’ve asked parents in the past why they provide these devices to their children, many have said to me that “it’s no big deal, all kids have them and besides, it keeps our kids busy and out of our hair.”  It might seem like no big deal to many, but at what cost?  Look at the effects of what it’s doing to the children and the family!

Divorce and separation continues to rise.  Many of the parents in my parenting classes are raising their children part-time, on their own.  When I bring up the importance of managing screen time, I’m usually met with resistance because the mom or dad does not want to upset the child.  The parent is afraid of hearing the words, “Daddy (or Mommy) doesn’t have stupid rules about my cell phone (or the computer) like you do.  I wish I could go live with him (or her)!”  This fear of losing their child or their child’s love becomes the greater force to refrain from implementing limitations to the addiction.

If you’re a parent who is ready to step up and manage screen time for your children.  Here are 10 things to begin implementing immediately to fight this dangerous addiction:

  • Place computers that the child uses, in a common area for you to monitor
  • Install monitoring software on the computer if your child is able to use it when home alone
  • Establish a 30 – 60 minute daily limitation on screen time during the week
  • Ban screen devices from bedrooms (TVs, computers, and handheld devices)
  • Don’t allow games on the same electronic reader device that your child uses for books
  • Secure your wireless router and put parent control on all your children’s’ devices
  • Handheld devices should be “signed out” for use and then “signed back in”
  • Smart phones aren’t for children or young teens and should be monitored
  • Walk your talk and limit your own screen time to set a healthy example
  • When you implement these changes, don’t get angry when your child objects

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Spencer February 16, 2013 at 07:11 PM
Cirrus--if it is 'mythology', please explain why you are able to breathe air.
cirrus February 17, 2013 at 12:34 PM
I had read the Bible twice well let me amend that, I'd read the New Testament twice the Old Testament about 80%. I challenge you to show me that you can follow all of the laws. Or any Christian follows all of the laws. The Catholic Church is a benevolent Association? Spencer please explain to me how the magic guy in the sky need me breathe air? The mythology is rampant. Ezekiel? You got to be joking have you ever read it? It's pure science fiction. Song of Solomon? In its original form it is pure pornography. Leviticus? You try following one 10th of all those laws. Why do you as a Christian cherry pick what is pertinent and what is not? Genesis. Two versions of the creation. Adam and Evie had two sons. How did they procreate? It is mythology. And where did those halos come from? Those are from the sun god Ra. Utilized to make Christianity more palatable the Egyptians. And who else got myrrh frankincense and gold at birth 1500years before Jesus? Krishna! That little tidbit was used to make Christianity more palatable in the East. If you really want to get a good historical view, watch the documentary "there is no God", done by a Christian or should I say previous Christian who actually saw the light of logic and the manipulation of a book. Constantine rewrote everything and thew out things he did not like. Mythology through and through, like every other religion they are all mythology. Tax churches.
cirrus February 17, 2013 at 12:37 PM
Also, my favorite passage in Matthew is Matthew 25, the parable of the goats and the sheep. Very few Christians I know could pass any of those tests. That is the central absolute base of Christianity God telling people how to treat other people.
Kspoonie February 18, 2013 at 01:13 AM
I believe Cirrus has this correct. I do give credit to the bible for being one hell of a story though. It has unicorns, dragons, giants, and talking snakes to name a few. I'll put it up there with Harry Potter. Religion is more geographical than spiritual. If you live in North America then you are probably brought up Christian. If you were brought up in India then probably Buddhist. If Middle East then Muslim.
cirrus February 19, 2013 at 09:00 PM
hey bibledoc do you follow these laws: Leviticus 11:7-8 Leviticus 19:28 - that one i would bet you follow Leviticus 19:27 Deuteronomy 23:1 Leviticus 19:16 Deuteronomy 25:11-12 Exodus 21:17 Mark 10:11-12 Exodus 31:14-15 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 Leviticus 10-11 Deuteronomy 22:20-21 just to name a few.. if so then you are perfect..


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