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Kids And Their Smartphones: Are They As Bad For Them As We Think?

In this modern age, it can feel like everyone has their noses stuck to smartphone screens. Almost everything we do can be achieved with a few taps on a handheld LED screen. From alarms and to-do lists to reconnecting with loved ones and keeping a finger on the pulse of world news.

We, as parents, think that our kids have the worst habits when it comes to smartphones. And we only have a tiny grasp on what they’re getting up to, thanks to new apps and tech being introduced every day. But realistically, who did they learn from? Are we setting a negative example, only to grumble when it’s mirrored back to us by our children?

And we often worry about how much time scrolling through endless posts is too much and whether it harms children. So let’s take a look at whether smartphones are really as bad as we think. And how to teach more positive habits and usage behaviors to our kids. Maybe we’ll learn something ourselves along the way too.

Are Mobile Devices Affecting Our Kids?

We’re quick to think that our kids’ usage of mobile devices is affecting them. Are they getting enough social interaction? Do they understand the impact on them? There has been some evidence to intimate that more than 3 hours of use a day could lead to behavioral issues. But realistically, it’s more like our use of smartphones is damaging to our children. 

Phones have become a staple of modern life. We work from them, socialize with them, and shop on them, which means we’re on them a lot. Our kids learn by example. So they see us on our phones most of the day and think that’s normal. But, unfortunately, it could be affecting their development. That’s because children learn best through face-to-face interactions. And if our faces are stuck to our phone screens, then they’re missing out on essential interactions we can provide.

It also means they are battling against our mobile devices for our attention. And when the phone wins out, our kids lose out thinking that we care more about what’s going happening on our screens than them. So reducing our own screentime could be the key to teaching our children better phone habits. 

Setting A Positive Example

It seems that instilling better smartphone usage habits start with us. And that might be hard to hear. But it’s an opportunity that we can grab by the horns. We can set a positive example of the best way to use mobile devices in our lives without having them take over. Have a look at your own usage and think about how you can transform that into a positive lesson for your kids.

The Positives Of Smartphones For Children

While we’re quick to concentrate on the negatives of phone use in children, there are actually plenty of positives that will help the new generation.

  • Self-sufficiency

With proper guidance from the adults in their lives, smartphones can teach kids to regulate their time on phones themselves. This will help them to practice healthy self-awareness and self-reflection. In addition, it will help prepare them for adulthood from a young age.

  • Digital Literacy

Using smartphones allows kids to prepare for and engage with future technologies. This means they’ll be able to navigate online resources better. And leave them in better standing to use and understand any new tech the world may rely on in the future.

Access

Smartphones give kids access to emergency services if they ever needed to. The ability to be able to connect with help quickly means they’ll feel safer. And so will you.

A Brilliant Tool For Learning And Staying Connected

We might think phones, in general, are negative. After all, we know all the hidden dangers that might lurk there. But they can actually be incredible tools that, when harnessed properly, will make our children smarter and more connected.

There are tonnes of learning apps and games that will feel like fun for children. But will actually be teaching them important lessons. And it can help them build on knowledge learned at school, so their learning is more well-rounded.

And they can be utilized for staying social too. The pandemic has shown us the importance of staying connected. And smart devices have been integral to continuing those connections. Teach your children how to use their devices to keep in touch with friends, family, and world news, so they’re always in the know. 

Keeping Them Safe

Mobile devices are now a gateway to the internet. And on the internet lurks danger around every corner that we’d like to keep our precious children away from. Rather than stopping them from using smartphones, set up parental controls so you know they’re staying safe.

And take the time to teach them online etiquette. Like the fact that everything they post online could be viewed by anyone and everyone. Very few things are actually private, and giving them the knowledge of that grants them to power to decide who sees what.

And make sure to keep conversations non-judgemental and open. No matter how many parental controls you put on their devices, they will, at some point, navigate onto a site that they shouldn’t. Keeping the open conversation means they’ll feel comfortable approaching you about it rather than hide it. Take every conversation as an opportunity to teach and build a well-rounded, knowledgeable human being. 

The Right Kind Of Phone Package

Getting kids to use their phones safely and positively means having a phone package that works for them. Of course, there’s no point in having a package that allows them to make unlimited calls if they never call anyone. But having unlimited messages works in case they need to get in touch with you in a pinch.

Because a lot of their time will be spent online, you could consider a data rollover package. But what is data rollover? It basically means any data that isn’t used will be rolled over to next month. And some packages even give you some cashback for the data you don’t use. It’s not only great for online, but it also saves you money, and kids can call using online services, so they’re always able to get in touch. 

How Do We Instill Better Usage Habits?

Part of making the most of the good smartphones have to offer is instilling better usage habits. It means the relationship with their devices is more positive, and you can join in on the gig. That means they continue to learn good practices from the people they look up to. 

Staying Active

It’s important to interject smartphone use with activity. So if they’re online for an hour, get them to have a break with some physical activity. It can be anything – jumping jacks, a dance party, or a kick about outside. It not only improves smartphone usage it also teaches good habits for staying fit. 

Work First

Using their phones for anything other than emergency calls should be seen as a reward. Make sure they get any schoolwork or chores done first. It teaches them to get the important stuff done first. Rather than leaving it to the last minute because they’ve spent 3 hours scrolling through TikTok

Not Before Bed

Sleep is sacred for children. And they need a good amount of it for their development. Unfortunately, playing on a smartphone before bed will keep them awake, thanks to the screen’s blue light. So they shouldn’t use them at least an hour before bed. 

Rules For All The Family

If you make a rule for them, you should follow them to a certain extent to set a good example. But whatever rules you set, make sure you stick to them. Consistency is key. 

Warning

If you’ve set an hour limit on your kid playing on their smartphone, give them a warning before that hours up. Let them know they have 5 or 10 minutes left then they’re less likely to cause a fuss. Kids will get frustrated if you disrupt them in the middle of a game level. Having a warning means they can get ready for phone time to finish. 

Quality Family Time

Make sure to pack weekends with quality family time. Do something you all love doing together. It’ll show kids that life off their phones is just as exciting. And it’ll build better relationships within the family. 

Phone Free Time

This goes for the adults too. There should always be time in your days where phones are a no-go. Maybe it’s during dinner so you can talk and connect. You could try movie night once a week where phones get put away. 

Final Thoughts

It’s obvious that mobile device usage isn’t going anywhere. If anything, it’ll only amplify as more jobs and tasks demand their use. But they’re not the harbinger of evil that they might be perceived as by us parents. 

Yes, a usage that exceeds 10 hours a day isn’t going to be good for anyone. But if we teach the right way to use smartphones and kids understand the ramifications of everything they do, they can be used for good. They can bring people together. Which over the last pandemic-ridden year has been a nugget of gold and a lifeline for many people. And they can teach far more good than bad. 

The best way to tackle kids’ usage is to set some boundaries, utilize parental controls, and keep conversations open so they know your available if they hit any bumps in the road. 

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