It is a common tactic by parents to play videos on a mobile device to keep young children entertained at meal times, or during long drives. However, early or constant exposure to mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, risk getting your child addicted.
A 2018 National DQ Impact Report shows that a 9-year-old in Singapore spends an average of 35 hours a week on a mobile device, which is higher than the global average of 32 hours. TOUCH Cyber Wellness has seen more cases of mobile device usage addiction, with the figure more than doubling from 34 in 2015 to 76 in 2017.
Is your child constantly on his smartphone or tablet for an inordinate amount of time daily? What should you do to prevent your child from developing an addiction to his/her mobile device?
Here are some tips to minimise the chances of your child developing a cyber addiction from Mr Shem Yao, Senior Coach, TOUCH Cyber Wellness.
Setting age-appropriate limits/boundaries is one way to protect your child. For example, boundaries and limits for a young child need to be tighter as compared to a youth or teenager. You may also need to take into account your child’s needs (example, e-learning in school), or the amount of time he/she spends on gaming.
Some children are reliant on mobile devices for social needs as they are unable to interact socially with others in real life. Others may be underperforming in school, and seek solace in the virtual world. Parents can encourage their child to take a wider interest in real-life activities such as team sports to build confidence and social skills.
Lead by Example
If the child has difficulty detaching himself/herself from their device, parents can lead by positive example by putting away their own mobile devices during designated family-time.
Do also catch this Talking Point episode on how a TOUCH Cyber Wellness client, Benjamin Ng, is weaned off his cyber addiction with the help of counsellors.
Seek Help Early
If you have identified increasing device usage by your child, coupled with behavioural changes such as social withdrawal, you could choose to speak with a TOUCH Cyber Wellness counsellor at TOUCHline (1800 377 2252) on weekdays from 10am – 6pm.
TOUCH Cyber Wellness (TCW) is a pioneer and leading non-profit agency that champions cyber wellness and media literacy education in Singapore. Since 2001, TCW has reached more than 320 schools and one million youths, parents, educators and counsellors through its education, advocacy and intervention efforts.