As parents struggle to control their children’s electronic gadget use and an addiction to screen time, kids may be growing miserable. Rachel Cruz of Headlines and Global News writes that a British study involving children and their parents found that 23% of mothers and fathers feel challenged when attempting to get their children to unplug.
But only 19% of parents said they had problems with getting their sons and daughters to eat healthy food, and 10% said they struggled when trying to get their kids to do their homework.
Scientists said that children who are continually using their devices could become a generation of “deeply unhappy children.”
“The pressure to keep up with friends and have the perfect life online is adding to the sadness that many young people feel on a daily basis,” said National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) chief Peter Wanless, via ITV.
The NSPCC began offering a helpline in 1986 and noticed a rise in cases of bullying, cyber-bullying, and low self-esteem. Action for Children (AFC) Managing Director Carol Iddon notes that a balance of technology time and quality family time along with other activities is crucial.
From her organization’s work with families, Iddon has learned that healthy family relationships make children resilient and less susceptible to bullying or abuse away from home. It also encourages kids to talk to their parents about any concerns or fears they are facing.
Tips shared by director Idden to help diminish children’s gadget use include planning family activities, limiting their own device time, and replicating online games in a real-world environment, reports R. Siva Kumar for Counsel & Heal.
An editorial in The Guardian by Bob Granleese explains how his boy, when he was 12- and 13-years-old, loved to play Minecraft. He admits that he thought this activity seemed stupid even though some had argued that playing Minecraft was somehow educational.
But, he continues, it was only a very short time before his son had graduated to Clash of Clans. He explains that he installed every form of parental control, but his son was now 15, and he was 52, so his son definitely had a leg up on technology knowledge.
He writes that none of the ACF suggestions are going to work for him. His son is a teenager, and it is way too late. So, he reports, he sat his son down and had a genuine, old-fashioned father-son talk. It didn’t work, he shares, but now he realizes that it’s the parents who are to blame for filling their homes with smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktops.
In a press release on the Action for Children website, the organization says that a conscious effort to cut down on screen time is the first step, but if parents need additional support, they are invited to visit their nearest Action for Children Center or attend one of their support groups. At the site, parents can learn how to connect with their children in a meaningful way.
AFC also has a National Children’s Hour aimed at connecting parents and children by way of unplugging and playing. The group offers activity ideas for parents on its website.