How Much is Too Much? Kids & Devices

Are My Kids Addicted to Technology?

How worried should I be about my kids’ use of technology?

Something that parents are often concerned about is how much time their kids are spending on devices. Phones, tablets, computers, and consoles seem to be taking up more and more space in our kids’ schedules – and often we find that they take priority over the things parents care about, like homework and chores. Most parents will agree that a healthy balance of leisure and responsibilities is important, but how much time on devices is too much? And when does it become a ‘problem’?

Too much technology can affect your kids’ psychological health.

There is lots of scientific research out there which says that too much technology is bad for our brains. Psychology researchers have found that people who spend an unhealthy amount of time on screens have increased mood swings and anxiety, lower mood, more family conflict, and poorer academic/work performance. Too much technology use is also associated with eye strain, sleep deprivation and obesity.

Some researchers have even suggested that technology can be addictive. The part of our brain responsible for releasing feel-good chemicals, ‘lights up’ when we scroll through Facebook or watch Netflix. We tend to develop a tolerance and need to spend more and more time on our devices to feel the same ‘high’.

Are there benefits of technology too?  Where is the balance?

Just reading all these concerns about technology can make us instinctively rush to ban any kind of electronic device in our house. However, it’s important to remember that too much of anything is bad for us, however, a few hours of gaming, scrolling or web surfing will not likely have any long-term effect on our health. In fact, a healthy balance of technology use can actually be good for us. Research shows that our online devices can help us feel connected to our community, more aware of important social issues, and less stressed when we use them to unwind.

Just like most other hobbies or interests, technology use can become a problem when:

  • It starts to become more important than school or work. For example, scrolling through Instagram mindlessly instead of finishing that important assignment.
  • Being away from it, or being asked to stop using it, results in severe mood changes or big emotional outbursts.
  • It’s the only hobby or interest that person has.
  • It’s affecting their physical or medical health, for example, not getting enough sleep because someone stays up on their phone or computer.

If that sounds like your child, it might be time to think about how technology is used at home.

It helps to be curious and explore the use of technology with your kids.

As parents, the most important thing is to be curious about why that device is so important. Does it help them regulate their mood after a stressful day at school? Is their ‘social cup’ best filled via social media or online communities? Does it help them avoid thinking about anxiety-inducing tasks, like homework and assignments? Do they have opportunities to engage in other activities that are equally as fun and rewarding? Having a hunch about why the person enjoys technology so much can help us think of other ways to get their needs met in healthier ways.

We encourage parents to start conversations with their kids, with a non-judgmental, empathetic approach.

From there, some agreements between you and your kids could be made around what other types of activities and socialising they may like to do, helping them to be more open to some non-technology time.

How can Psychologists Help?

Revive’s psychologists are experienced in supporting children and families who struggle with technology use at home.

Part of our role may be to help families develop an effective agreement about how technology could be used to a healthy limit.

We also assist people who present with an addiction to technology and assist people to changes their behaviours over time

Contact us – Bookings are available now

Written by:

Frieda Scholten-Laidler

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