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Why are we escaping to digital devices?

iPads, tablets and all manner of gadgets are ruling our lives on a daily basis

Written and researched by Monica C

There is no doubt that high-tech gadgets and digital devices have made life easier for people in the modern world. It is actually because of this convenience and the seemingly endless list of things that you can do using these devices that it is easy for adults to develop an addiction. It creeps up on them and before they know it, they are already too immersed in their online connection and they have become disconnected with the real world. 

Watch out for these symptoms of addiction to digital devices:

  • Lack of focus, concentration or attention 
  • Memory problem
  • Indecisiveness in decision-making
  • Fertility problem caused by too much exposure to electro-magnetic field (EMF) or radiation of the gadget
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Trouble in communication (expressing thoughts or opinions verbally)

A few years ago, experts identified “digital dementia” as a memory problem caused by the abusive use of gadgets. Digital dementia occurs in human brain cells and chemistry.

The “phone vibration syndrome” was also found to be common among adults. People thought they felt the phones in their pockets vibrating only to find no messages or notifications when they check. 

People are often so engrossed in their smartphones that they do not notice what’s happening around them and would often defend themselves and claim that they are actually multi-tasking.

There are even instances when they do not actually hear what other people are telling them because they are too busy flipping through their Android or iPhone apps.

Rules to Fight Gadget Addiction

Just like any other addiction, this one is not impossible to shake off although many people would find it challenging. The process takes commitment and willpower to pull through. Try these rules to fight your digital device addiction in your day-to-day activities: 

  • Don’t text while you’re driving. Keep this rule not only for your safety but also for the safety of other people who are with you. If you need to text someone, do it before you drive. If someone is in the car with you, let him check your phone and respond to the message for you. 
  • Don’t use your phone while you are waiting in line to order your meal or while you’re getting on a train. Be mindful of the people around you. 
  • Avoid using your phone when you’re already in the bedroom, especially right before bed time as the light affects your ability o fall asleep and sleep well.
  • Don’t use your phone when you are spending time with your loved ones or friends.
  • Leave your phone at home if you don’t need it. If you’re just going for a jog around your village, you don’t have to bring your phone with you. Don’t keep checking your phone when out at a meal with friends or a sports event or similar. Be present of the situation instead of getting lost in a digital world.

Be a responsible adult. If you have kids, set an example for them. If you are able to resist and fight your addiction to high-tech devices, it will be easier for you to implement rules for your kids to help them fight their addiction as well. 

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Helping Children Overcome their Digital Device Addiction

It’s alarming to see the number of children addicted to mobile devices. This dependency greatly impacts the lives of kids in the same the way it affects the adults.

One of the common problems linked to children’s addictions to gadgets is getting poor grades in school. Most kids get easily bored in studying their lessons but they can spend hours in playing with their gadgets.

They can’t focus on their class discussions, they are always looking forward to having breaks or going home so they can finally use their devices again. 

Children are also becoming forgetful. Their increased exposure in the virtual world is believed to be the culprit for their lack of interest to memorize their lessons in school. Why bother memorizing things when you can recall it at the touch of a button?

The problem is that they don’t care about these lapses as much as they do when they forget their phones or tablets. According to studies, children experience anxiety and agitation when they realize that they forgot to bring their devices with them. 

Most kids will throw tantrums when they are prohibited to use their devices, making it harder for parents to control them. Other kids, especially teens, would refuse to follow orders at home if their parents didn’t buy them the latest gadgets. 

The social abilities of children can also be hampered by gadget addiction. Many kids would rather stay at home to play with their devices rather than attend a children’s party. As a result, they may not get along with other kids easily. 

One of the biggest problems that may arise from this addiction is the way kids believe in the characters that they encounter while playing their mobile games. Some games that include fighting can make a kid feel it’s normal and it’s okay to be brutal to his friends.

Playing Grand Theft Auto or Assassin’s Creed could unduly influence a child’s thinking and normalize dangerous behavior, blurring the lines between fiction and reality. Many use it as an escape mechanism but it could become more sinister when accessed by younger, more impressionable individuals.

grand theft auto
GTA: harmless or harmful?

Ways to Fight and Prevent Gadget Addiction 

Parents as well as caregivers should be responsible for implementing strict rules to the kids. They need to set up clear guidelines about using their devices so that the children will fully understand what can happen if they break the rules. 

Here are some rules that you may apply to your kids:

  • Don’t expose really young children to digital devices. There are other items or activities that can be used to keep young children preoccupied.  
  • If you must allow them to use digital devices, impose a limit to their gadget use. It is important to be firm and consistent when doing this. Yet, you should not make it seem like you are depriving them of something. A better approach would be to have other activities programmed in their daily schedules. Say that gadget time is over and it’s time to see Mr Sun for some outdoor fun. You can also apply this to other electronics like your television and their electronic toys. 
  • Set a schedule when your children are allowed to use their devices at home. It could be after dinner or after doing their homework. Set a time that is suitable for them. 
  • Don’t place the television or computer in your children’s bedroom. 
  • Observe a tech-free time at home when everyone in the house, including adults, is not allowed to use any gadget.
  • Monitor your children’s access to the device by sitting by their side while they are playing. This is a perfect opportunity to talk and have fun together as you watch them play their favorite game.
  • Avoid using any mobile device in front of your kid, unless it’s for emergency. If you have to use your phone or laptop for work-related purposes, do it when your children are not home or when they are already asleep. 
  • Teach your children the importance of using gadgets in moderation. 
  • Provide other means of entertainment such as books or a backyard pool. 

Kids are competitive. They would do anything just to get what they want. You can take advantage of this by making the use of gadget as a reward for their good deeds.

For example, they can only use their device after they finish their homework or household chores. This could help them develop self-discipline and willpower to overcome their gadget addiction.

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Don’t forget to praise your kids for their efforts in following your rules. By doing so, your kids will feel that they did something good and they will be inspired to do it again next time. 

A female app developer, who is a mother, admitted that she is also struggling to keep her children from getting addicted to smartphones or tablets.

Monica

For this reason, she works hard, along with other developers, to create Android apps that are educational. They also find ways to create more games that are academic but fun at the same time. 

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