Studies are now calling screens digital heroin and electronic cocaine. Recent brain imaging research shows that screens affect the portion of the brain which controls functioning and impulse control — it does this exactly the same way that cocaine does. Translation: when looking at a scanned image of a drug addict’s brain and a kid who uses screens you cannot tell the difference.
When you give your kids access to screens you are giving them something that impacts the way their brain functions, even their ability to control their impulses. This negative impact of screens should at least make us think twice about giving them unlimited access and free reign. Here are the 4 steps to remedying this technology addiction in your kids.
1. Have a screen detox
It takes about a month to detox from any addiction. I have to say in our personal experience that’s dead on. We’ve had to do a TV detox before and it’s about four weeks before things are back to normal. I suggest you do the same especially if you are at that point where you are having trouble with your kids that just aren’t the typical challenges.
Set the screen detox expectations with your kids and keep them. If an exception has to be made for schoolwork, give guidance and set a timer. Remember when the detox is over, don’t go right back to giving them the same access that caused the need for this detox in the first place.
2. Limit screen time
Our kids aren’t allowed to have screens during the week with the exception of a couple of educational shows after they’ve completed their daily school work.
If your kids are using screens for their schoolwork, then this becomes especially crucial. Set a limit for your kids (besides the necessary amount on schoolwork) and see how their creativity and behavior improves.
3. Limit screen locations
Additionally, their screen use is confined to a public room in our house. This means no phone charging in their bedrooms overnight, laptops are used in the living room, etc. Being consistent with this is important. This also gives you the opportunity to monitor their use and will curb any usage that is not approved.
Occasionally over the summer, we became a little too relaxed in some of these areas, and it became a battle to get them back in their regular routine and habits of limited screen use. Avoid this mistake with your kids.
4. Create alternative screen options
We recently started this with our sons, ages 6 and 10. We started with Uno cards. Now, when they get bored we’ll find them laughing and playing a game of Uno. We even taught our youngest son how to work on his math facts using Uno cards. Additionally, they have an over-the-door hanging basketball hoop to play with when they get tired, a stack of books from the library always nearby, and a cabinet full of board games.
Remember, our screen as children was being outdoors. So, send them outside to play. It’s a scary thought to think that you could be giving your child something that is leading them to become an addict. I encourage you to make a change for the sake of your child’s health.