Are we losing our children to their screens?
Are they addicted to tech?
They can play it on their smartphone, Xbox or PlayStation. With immersive
interactive games like Fortnite available to play on ANY device including
smartphones it’s no wonder our children are getting more and more addicted
to tech as the games are more and more accessible.
Having seen the game play of Fortnite it’s easy to see the appeal it’s so
immersive and interactive and can be played with their friends. It’s designed to
be addictive. When they can get home from school and start playing Fortnite
they can carry on the chat and banter with their friends. You ask them to come
off and they just need to “finish the game”.
Fear of missing out and peer pressure are big reasons that children are online
and connected if it’s not gaming then it’s social media like Instagram –and the
notifications that tell them friends are there online, having a video chat or
posting comments and images.
Mobile phones and games and other devices are designed to be addictive, they
make you want to use them. Just as we find ourselves going online to check
something or scroll through social media our children are also drawn to being
online through games and social media.
Too much tech can have detrimental effects on children’s behaviour and mental
health it can make them withdrawn and unsocial. It can affect their ability to
play and socialize and focus on homework. It can make them incredibly moody.
Think when you ask them to stop and come off their device it’s like an addict
coming down. When they play or are online having interactions they are
basically getting a buzz the hit of dopamine – the endless loop. It rewards us
and makes us want to get that hit again. As soon as they come off that device
their hit is being taken away. Which is a massive come down.
But how do you moderate it because children do need to be online for school
work and life is becoming more digital. Children are expected to be online for
Many schools use online portals for homework and producing pieces of work.
Google is amazing for finding out anything and listening to music and watching
films; everything is digital and accessible online now. Children can learn new languages and develop skills that just aren’t accessible offline. They can keep up with friends and family who live far away and they can develop tech skills that will no doubt help them as they grow up in life. We want to be able to connect with them if they have a phone, so how do we get the balance right?
While we can’t stop our children from being online…Well we could if we
wanted to be deeply unpopular! There are parents who have just had enough
and taken the PlayStation away – one Australian mum who was fed up with
the constant squabbles and arguments threw it in the swimming pool!
But on a more serious note the digital world isn’t going to go away it’s only
going to get more engrained in our lives so perhaps we need a different
approach? One that helps guide our children and helps them to self-regulate
just like we helped them when they were toddlers to learn to cross the road;
we now need to help them negotiate their way to healthy online habits.
So, helping our children to switch off from the online world is essential
How can you tell if your child is addicted to tech? Try our checklist below.
– Are they anxious and distressed when their devices are taken away?
– Do they get moody if they can’t be online?
– Do they choose screen time over other activities?
– Are they anxious about getting back online?
– Do they constantly talking about being online and their games?
If you recognized some behaviour traits above then you might want to try some
of our tips below:
12 Top Tips for Managing Tech Addiction and Creating Healthy Online Habits
1. Create boundaries at home
Create screen free times. Mealtimes, before bed. Create digital boundaries
too. Tech free bedrooms. Charging devices downstairs out of sight out of mind.
2. Digital Curfew
Help them to understand about being present and why it’s good for them to switch off the devices. Make sure they have a good amount of time to switch
off from tech before going to bed. Think about a curfew.
3. Countdown warnings
Give them a countdown warning so they can prepare themselves for coming
off and finishing their game. Get them to agree a time limit on the game
before they start.
4. Be the change
Set a good example from you – try not to be randomly scrolling on your phone
all the time. If your children see you making an effort not to be online then
they will follow your lead and they can’t turn around to you and say “well you
5. Agree when and how long for
Have an agreement when they can online. Try a family agreement like no
gaming Mon- Weds and then specific number of hours and if you are trying to
reduce their screen time, then reduce the time they spend online in
incremental amounts each week.
6. Manage their scrolling habits
Try apps to manage and limit time on devices. Forest App is fantastic for this, it
actually does feel really bad when your tree dies when you pick your phone
7. Help them understand
Explain and talk to your child why you want to limit their time. Find out why
they feel they need to be online. Help them understand when they feel rubbish
after being online for too long. Explain about their brains getting addicted to
the buzz of it.
8. Monitor usage
Use the tech to monitor the tech. Apple has a screen time report and also a
battery report that lets you see when the phone is being used. Restrict gaming
times and use the parental controls that the games come with.
9. Turn off those pings and alerts!
Turn off the notifications so they are constantly drawn to their devices
10. Non-screen games
Replace screen time with traditional activities, board games, painting, reading,
11. Cold turkey?
Probably won’t work and might seem more of a punishment, and increase
resentment. Reduce time online rather than completely eliminate it in one go.
12. Controversial maybe?
Finally, this one might be controversial but it works for some – could your
family try a non-tech day a week? Just like people do with other addictions?
Try a ‘no screen time day’. We’d love to know if you do and what happens??