Over the summer holidays I have become concerned about the behaviour of my children, and what seems at times to be an internet addiction. One of my children (who is normally a fairly obedient child) had his iPod confiscated for a day, but later that day I found he had taken it back and was secretly playing in his room. The ban from the iPod was extended, but the next day, he had again found my hiding spot and was playing on his iPod once more!
During the holidays we were also desperate to get our teenage daughter away from her iPhone so she could get some rest from constant texting, checking facebook and feeling the need to always be connected. We felt she needed a technology sabbatical.
With my concerns about the addictions in my children, it has been interesting to hear that a form of technology addiction is being considered to be added to a list of mental health disorders in the manual of the American Psychiatric Association (1). Dr Michael Carr Gregg, a Melbourne Adolescent psychologist has explained that online games, particularly those that deliver rewards like going up levels, stimulate dopamine in the brain that make your brain feel happiness and it can be very hard to be motivated to walk away and do other things. (2)
So to start the new year as Christian parents, I think it is part of our responsibility to monitor our children’s use of the internet. They need to be encouraged to spend time outside, to read books and to even be bored at home, forced to use their imaginations to entertain themselves.
Here are some guidelines that we have put into practice in our house:
- 2 hour limit of “screen time” a day on holidays and weekends. On weeknights the limit is more like half an hour.
- No screens in the morning until 8:30am.
- iPods and iPhones must be charged in the kitchen at night, not bedrooms.
- No technology at dinner time.
It would be great to hear your stories of your children and the internet and any of your own tips. Leave a comment below with your thoughts!
(1) & (2): http://www.news.com.au/technology/internet-addiction-likley-to-be-classified-as-a-mental-illness/story-e6frfro0-1226557712281