Would you have thought it possible that online gaming and social media interactions could lead to a digital addiction? Yet there is evidence that digital addiction acts on the brain’s reward center in the same ways that drugs do. By the way, what’s your kid doing right now?
What Digital Addiction Looks Like
Your child’s enthusiasm for Minecraft or Fortnite doesn’t mean that she’s struggling with a digital addiction. Your constant obsession with checking email or social media, on the other hand, is a little more worrisome. Here’s what to look for:
- Continuous interaction with digital devices
- Conducting relationships online rather than in person
- Distraction from work or school because of texting or chatting online
- Giving up sleep to play one more level, visit one more chat group, or answer one more group text
If you’re not sure that this applies to you, turn off your phone and put it in your purse or backpack. Can you go an entire day without checking texts? Can you leave your social media account alone for a day? How do you feel about reading an actual book versus an online one? If you’re riding as a passenger in the car, do you feel like your hands should be doing something? Only you can honestly answer these questions – for yourself and for your kids.
My (Child’s) Digital Use Is off the Charts; Now What?
It’s time to regroup. Most importantly, it starts with you, the adult. It’s difficult to tell junior to get off the tablet and go outside to play when you’re sitting at the dinner table posting on Facebook.
- Buy a paper Bible. Buy one for your child, too. If you don’t have a phone or tablet in your hand, you’re far less likely to check your email “real quick.”
- Get busy with your family group. Help with the Bible Talk. Maybe you can help with putting together the snack rotation or assist with the kids. When you’re busy doing something productive that requires attention to detail, you don’t miss the next Candy Crush level.
- Schedule “on” time. Digital devices are tools. When you use them the right way, they’re great! The problem arises when you misuse them. At the dinner table, there shouldn’t be room for the phone. Teach your child, by example, that it’s okay to respond to a call or text later.
For more tips, visit Tech Timeout during your “on” time.