A recent trend has arisen in my practice – a number of clients have reported or are presenting with screen addictions. One of the interesting things about this phenomenon is that it is not limited to children, as you might think. Yes, there are plenty of kids who spend “too much time” on games or looking at screens that engage their attention. But adults have problems with this issue as well.
Kids & Screen Addiction
As far as kids go, though, parents are asking me about how to limit screen time and kids are, naturally, extremely reluctant to have any limits put on their time. When I meet with these families, I never expect an easy conversation – parents are from a generation that often doesn’t have much tolerance for the (over)use of devices and thus kids often feel misunderstood. I approach the issue like this: once understanding is in place, I encourage parents to limit the time and make sure they have follow up disciplinary tools in place.
Give your kids structure – fairly
One of the primary goals in situations like this is to alleviate chaos in the home, which is usually the state by the time families get to me. Parents are pulling their hair out with a lack of compliance and children are understandably frustrated due to a lack of structure surrounding their behavior. So, parents, here are some general concepts to follow and put in place as you go about trying to solve this problem – ease your approach to the issue, put a fair structure in place and have consequences to exceptions. So, what does this mean?
Set clear boundaries
First of all, realize it’s a different world and gadgets aren’t going away any time soon, so they will have to be dealt with. That can be done with a velvet glove rather than an iron fist, however. Approach it as a problem you can solve together, and always keep in mind that you have the best interests of your child at heart. Secondly, make your intentions and your boundaries as crystal clear as you possibly can, first to yourself and then to your child. Next, when creating the boundaries surrounding device usage, make sure you are being fair. Finally, if your rules are broken, make sure that both of you know what the consequence for that will be, and stand by what you laid out for them when you set up the rules.