Today, kids no longer play with same toys that we played with as children. The new ‘distraction’ on the market is smart-phones and tablets, something you will find in many kids’ backpacks, or glued to their ears. Kids’ using these smart phones and tablets have almost reached the addiction stage and overuse is now a growing concern for any parent.
The internet is a powerful tool and can be used to send emails, messages, download music and pictures, have chats and share news and stories through Facebook and Twitter. It is so easy to use that kids are now going overboard with social media. Many teens feel that it’s necessary to post pictures of themselvesand status updates constantly on what they are doing. They also feel that it’s necessary to check what other friends are doing, too. It’s not uncommon to look at a room full of teenagers and see them with their heads down checking Facebook or tweeting.
Facebook is the most visited social media site for teenagers. With 1.19 billion active monthly users (65% of which are between 15-34), you can see that there is a huge amount of teens on Facebook. Why do teens love social media so much? It’s a way to connect with their peers, keep up to date with the latest news and trends, and also an outlet to showcase their own individuality and creativity. When used properly social media can be a great tool. When used improperly, it can become a distraction and dangerous. The key is to know how your teen is using social media to make sure that they are being responsible.
Just like drugs and alcohol, internet addictions are real addictions. There are many people that have become addicted to going online and can’t stop. They are jeopardizing their relationships with others and can lead to trouble with work and school. Where are they learning this behavior initially? Kids are watching their parents using the cell phone and tend to follow their example.
Parents need to sit and discuss with their children about responsible use of social media. Setting a good example and unplugging on a regular basis lets the teen see responsible online behavior. Not all teens who use social media regularly are addicted. Here are some behaviors that may help youto tell if your child has an addiction to social media or the internet:
- Constantly checking their phone to see if messages have come in
- Your teen has a lack of interest in activities (other than their phones)
- They are starting to have mood swings
- When you take the device away they show signs of withdrawal
- They sneak around to use the device (at bedtime, in the bathroom, etc.)
If you observe any of these behaviors you may want to intervene. It is time to lay down some rules and monitor their usage. Finding an application to help you track your kids cell phone usage can help you monitor the amount of time and which sites they are visiting. If you feel the problem is serious then you may want consult a professional. Get your kids off to the right start with technology by limiting social media and screen time and enforcing those rules from the moment you place that device in their hands.