As a Counseling Psychologist & Psychotherapist I get a lot of complaints from parents saying that children are spending more time on electronic gadgets, especially mobiles and laptops. It is true, in this era of digital education, gadgets are one of the unavoidable elements of support for our children, specifically for their studies. How we can protect our children from the overuse of mobile and internet ? This is a question every parent is asking these days. I also feel that this is a very complicated and volatile issue prevailing among our younger generation, but is equally applicable to the older generation as well.
Before suggesting any solution to this issue, I would like to point out my findings of the basic reason behind this.
The school closure in this pandemic situation has negatively affected the emotional growth of our children. For more than a year they are refrained from the social gatherings and outside entertainment. They are missing their peers, they are missing out on their playtime. No doubt, this lack of social interactions and mingling has made them frustrated.
In addition to that they are confined inside for long hours, constantly annoyed by parents (that is normally something every parent does) and the restriction imposed up on them aggravates the frustration. So negative emotions are piling up in their mind day by day. Somehow they want to vent these negative emotions which are troubling them every now and then. Normally children hesitate to share everything to their parents or teachers. So what are the means they can use to vent out their accumulated negative emotions?
Some children may depend on some “pick me ups” such as drugs or alcohol. But most of the students choose to use the easiest way of playing video games in mobile, laptop, internet surfing etc. By doing so they can temporarily release their accumulated negative emotions and will get some sort of satisfaction and happiness.
As we already know, any activity we do continuously will become our habit. When children are continuously using gadgets they will become addicted to that and parents cannot refrain them easily from that.
Here the parents have a constructive role to play in optimizing the gadget use. If you are able to give the same happiness and satisfaction to your children helping them to vent out their negative emotions, to a certain extent you can save your children from this bad habit. What I mean is some sort of diversion you have to try out. Always bad habits can be replaced with good ones if we try sincerely. So dear parents help your children to find out some alternative activity which involves both their body and mind. You can try to encourage them to develop their unutilised talents such as playing musical instruments, dancing, drawing, or pursue healthy hobbies like reading, exercising etc. Allow them to use their phones to connect creatively with their friends so that they can vent their pent-up emotions during this time of isolation.
Finally you can consult a Psychotherapist to find solutions if things go out of control. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) and Hypnotherapy have been found to reduce the intensity of addictive behavior in children and adults.