Common Sense Media, a San Francisco-based organization, in their polls discovered that nearly 59% of parents think their teens are addicted to their cell phones, tablets or laptops and 27% of parents believe they themselves are addicted.
According to the survey, 78% of teens and 69% of parents check their devices at least hourly, and 72% of teens and 48% of parents feel the need to immediately respond to text messages. Teens spend an average of nine hours daily, and pre-adolescents spend six hours daily, on entertainment media. Those figures don’t include time spent doing homework. In the new survey, 77% of parents say that, at least a few times every week, their teens get distracted by devices and don’t pay attention to their parents. Similarly, 41% of teens say the devices sometimes cause their parents to be inattentive.
This behavior is causing friction between parents and children. About one-third of both parents and teens say they argue daily about device use; only 21% of parents and 30% of kids say that they never argue about it.
Tips for healthy living with technology
There are plenty of easy steps you can take to prevent technology use from becoming addiction. Here are a few tips to help stay in control over the devices.
· Unplug for 30 minutes. When the business day is over, consider taking some time out. It’s okay to turn off the phone and the PDA for a while.
· Focus on the people around you. Whether it’s in a meeting or at home, the people you’re with deserve your attention. Try to listen to them and treat them with respect by putting off checking your messages until later.
· Keep a healthy balance. Consider whether it’s really necessary to take it with you to the gym or the restaurant. Try to make a time and a place for each part of life.
· Prioritize. Consider what’s more important, taking a phone call or spending time with your family? Checking your email or talking to your friend? You’re in control, so you can choose to put technology in its place and put relationships first.
· Find more meaningful ways to spend your time. Try taking up a new hobby. It’s good to get out and be active to fight against the lure of technology. Why not go for a walk or a bike ride? When you start spending time and energy in other areas, you may end up wanting to check your messages less.
· Declare tech-free zones and times
· Check ratings of media and technology
· Talk about what your kids are seeing, reading and playing; encourage kids to consider the media message
· Help kids understand the effects of multitasking; helping kids stay focused will strengthen interpersonal skills and academic performance. Multitasking can cause the brain to overheat, like a car engine. Constant interruptions take a toll on our bodies and our mental states.
· Walk the walk: Lead by example and put away devices while driving, at mealtimes and during family time
· Seek expert help: If your kids’ use of media and technology is harming their mental health or disrupting relationships, contact a health care provider or other professional for advice