No parent wants to admit that their teenager might have a smartphone addiction. But let’s be honest, are you worried that your child spends more time on their devices than with you? Do you think they’re obsessed with their (or your) smartphones: your little one’s watching YouTube cartoons or playing games non-stop, and the older one is looking at it every few minutes, texting friends all the time, checking to see how many “likes” they’ve got after they’ve posted on social media, refusing to put their phones to one side round the dinner table? Well, I share your concerns – and so do many other parents.
Too often, we have no choice but to accessorise our children with laptops and smartphones in this gadget-filled world, so we have to take responsibility for their disciplined behaviour and moderation in their use as well. We buy our kids gadgets to keep them safe, help them with their homework and to keep them out of our hair but we probably didn’t foresee all the problems they can cause.
As parents, we can definitely take steps to change this situation. Will it be hard? Yes. Is it impossible? No.
Why are Silicon Valley parents raising their kids screen free?
A 2017 survey conducted by the Silicon Valley Community Foundation found among 907 Silicon Valley parents that despite high confidence in technology’s benefits, many parents now have serious concerns about tech’s impact on kids’ psychological and social development.
Former employees at major tech companies, some of them high-level executives, have gone public to condemn the companies’ intense focus on building addictive tech products. The discussions have triggered further research from the psychology community, all of which has gradually convinced many parents that a child’s palm is no place for devices so potent.
“The tech companies do know that the sooner you get kids, adolescents, or teenagers used to your platform, the easier it is to become a lifelong habit,” Koduri told Business Insider. It’s no coincidence, he said, that Google has made a push into schools with Google Docs, Google Sheets, and the learning management suite Google Classroom.
Turning kids into loyal customers of unhealthy products isn’t exactly a new strategy. Some estimates find that major tobacco companies spend nearly $9 billion a year, or $24 million a day, marketing their products in the hopes kids will use them for life. The same principle helps explain why fast-food chains offer kids’ meals: Brand loyalty is lucrative.
You can purchase the accompanying book here: How To Manage Your Child’s Smartphone Addiction