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  • Is Your Child Glued to His Gadget? 7 Ways to Break a Potential Screen Addiction

    Learn about the red flags of excessive screen time.
    by Kate Borbon .
Is Your Child Glued to His Gadget? 7 Ways to Break a Potential Screen Addiction
PHOTO BY iStock
  • You know that people can get "addicted" to social media or video games when you have gadgets like smartphones providing a "screen time limit" function. And it is true for kids who can get obsessive — the World Health Organization has included “gaming disorder” in its draft of the latest International Classification of Diseases (ICD). Could “gadget addiction” be far behind?

    What is gadget addiction?

    According to a study by the University of Michigan, gadget addiction happens when “screen use causes problems in other areas of life or has become an all-consuming activity,” as Sarah Domoff, the lead author of the study, says. What are the possible signs?

    According to the same study, a red flag is when a child is unable to control his usage of gadgets or when he can’t adhere to limits set by a parent with regards to how long he can spend online. Another is a loss of interest in activities that don’t involve technology. Another sign is when technology-related things seem to preoccupy his thoughts even when he is not using a gadget. 

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    How to prevent gadget addiction

    There is no actual disorder called gadget addiction, but excessive use can happen easily with serious repercussions. (One mom blamed her child's seizures for the excessive use of gadgets. Read that story here.) The first step is to make sure they don't stare at their devices all day. Here are a few tips that encourage outdoor play and activity-based learning (it all means more quality time as a family!).

    1. Indulge in activity-based learning.

    Kids learn best when they are allowed to take part in activities that engage their senses. For instance, this box from Oli’s Boxship, which contains materials kids can use to make items like homemade candles and lemonade, will help your child understand the concepts of hot and cold.

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    2. Encourage outdoor activities.

    There’s nothing like playing outside to keep a child’s sense of wonder alive! Outdoor play can help stimulate his senses in ways that mobile games and applications can’t. Plus, it’s a great way to give him some exercise! If your child seems to like speed, consider a scooter like this one from Chaser Action.

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    3. Engage in pretend play.

    Pretend play boosts your child's skills in language and communication, exercises his ability to solve problems, allows him to be creative, and improves his social and emotional development, among others. A great toy to engage in pretend play with your child is this adorable play kitchen from Toy Tinkr!

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    4. Introduce your child to arts and crafts.

    Your child does not need to be a Picasso or be "artistic" to draw or do crafts. In fact, if you think your child is shy, doing a self-portrait is a fun drawing activity like will help boost his confidence (learn more about it here). But don't confine him to rules! Let him have fun with the help of a paint set from Ma’am and Moms.

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    5. Reintroduce old-fashioned games

    Setting a specific time of the day when your child can only do screen-free activities like old-fashioned games is another way to decrease screen time little by little. You can try a lot of options, such as board games, which can actually foster your child’s skills in literacy and language and improve his cognition and motor abilities, among others. Playing with board games can also be a fun bonding activity for the whole family! Gaming Library has plenty of different board games you can go for including the "Ticket to Ride" board game.

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    6. Get reading

    Reading books with your child develops his skills in literacy and listening and triggers his imagination as he makes sense of the stories in his mind. It will also help improve his ability to think logically and comprehend coherently. Finally, books are a simple way to teach children good values! One example of a book you can use is When My Friend Wins, written by Robyn Rodriguez and follows a story about empathy and sportsmanship.

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    7. Spend some quality time with your child

    If you leave your child by himself too often, he might be more likely to depend on his smartphone or tablet for company. So, make it a point to be present for your child, and to engage with him by playing games or by just chatting, even if you might be busy or tired a lot of the time. All that effort will surely pay off!

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