Are Your Kids “Electronic Addicts?”

by Norris Law Group on July 11, 2014

Are Your Kids “Electronic Addicts?”Whether you have your child in your home full-time or you share custody with the child’s other parent, you may notice that whenever your child comes home, he or she “plops down” in front of some electronic device, whether it is a television, computer, mobile device, or video game console. For that time, your child seems “gone,” completely engrossed in “another world.” Such behavior can cause real problems in a family, especially if parents don’t get to spend every day with a child. Are you concerned that your child may actually be addicted to technology? If so, “Behavioral Science Guy” Joseph Grenny offers some suggestions as to how to help your child “pull the plug” and spend some time away from “the screens” in a June 2014 article for the Deseret News.

  1. “Consider if the problem is the problem.” Is your child really addicted to technology, or is he or she trying to “escape” from something else, such as “bullying, depression, anxiety, loneliness or other social or emotional problems?”
  2. “Interview, don’t lecture.” Admonishing your child for spending so much time using electronics likely won’t get you far, nor will statements such as, “I think you’ve got a problem.” Grenny suggests instead to “come in with curiosity and a desire to connect.” If you show a genuine interest in what your child is doing and in how he or she is feeling, your child should respond much more positively to your “interview questions.” The answers may give you insight into what may really be going on.
  3. “Wake him — don’t make him [or her].” If you want to encourage your child to choose different behaviors on his or her own without needing to be told, the child needs to see the “downside” of choosing electronics over other activities as well as the “upside.” For example, if the child wants to attend the game of a favorite sports team with friends, maybe set up a situation in which the child must complete a series of chores first—which will also require the child to take time away from the games. If the chores aren’t completed, the child will not be allowed to attend the game. Instilling such discipline can be a “tricky business,” but it can be accomplished with patience and time.
  4. “Suggest an abstinence test.” Ask your child to abstain from electronics for a time, and to report back about how he or she felt when the technologies weren’t available. Discuss your child’s feelings openly with him or her. You may find that your child makes discoveries about these behaviors on his or her own.
  5. “Don’t force — but don’t enable, either.” Your child’s decisions should have boundaries and come with consequences. Try setting some limits, such as: “You may play video games for up to three hours a day—and five hours each day on the weekends—but only if you finish your homework first.”

Attorney Graham Norris and his associates at the Norris Law Group serve the residents of Utah County and throughout Utah in the area of family law, including child custody and visitation. Contact them today at 801-932-1238 or online for a free consultation.

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