With the new emerging norm being everyone connected to the network 24 hours a day, the potential for addiction, which is defined as those things that steal our attention and seduce us into pathological and unhealthy relationships, can become a real experience for children starting a very young ages.
In a NY Daily News article, psychiatrists are reporting that children as young as two years old are showing symptoms of becoming addicted to devices; parents are reaching out for help with kids who become obsessed with the devices and are extremely distressed and inconsolable when they are taken away.
If your child is loath to put down the device, has trouble sleeping, regularly caught up in drama over the small stuff, then there is a chance that addiction is starting to impact her life in a negative way.
“An addiction is usually defined as a compulsive use of a harmful substance like drugs, alcohol, gambling or the Internet. But it can also be an unhealthy obsession with gossip, drama, fear, or the need to be the center of attention.” Jodie Stevens, from Genuine Life with Jodie Stevens
Tips for Parents
- First do not allow yourself to be distracted by devices, texting and other things. Attention management does not require more time; it is simply a matter of being mindful and intentional about the stuff that really matters – like family relationships. We have to model it for our children. It is a balancing act.
- Have conversations with your children about attention management. Help your child understand that no matter what other people are doing, we always have the power to choose our thoughts and where to focus our attention. Help your child connect with priorities that reflect their values of respect, trust, kindness and then guide their personal decisions to not waste time and energy in conversations, activities and exchanges that are negative, counter-productive and not satisfying.
- The experts on addiction will tell you that the antidote for addiction is a healthy relationship. So your genuine interest in your child and what is happening in their life on and off line is critical. If your child’s symptoms continue unabated by open conversation and escalate, you may need to seek support from a counselor who specializes in addiction.
Joanna Jullien is an author, educator and speaker on strengthening the parent-child relationship in a cyber powered world. She a mother of two grown sons, the author of The Authority In Me: The Power of Family Life in the Network Culture, produces The Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner column on Examiner.com, and is the CyberParenting advisor on The Fish 103.9FM. Her new book, A Google World in the Garden of Eden: Five Family-Safe Strategies for Texting and Social Media is now available for PC and all eReader formats including Kindle, Nook, iPad.