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Addiction To Technology - The Warning Signs

How much is too much screen time?

Teen girl looking at phone in bed

It can feel like digital technology is taking over our lives!

Smart phones, tablets, laptops and computers are everywhere…

A lot of parents enjoy technology – it's a great way to connect with family and friends plus it's entertaining and fun!

However, when it comes to their kids, many parents worry about getting the balance right. They don't want to see their kids become addicted to technology.

Technology can be beneficial.

Technology is everywhere - it's quick, easy and accessible!

For parents:

  • Mobile phones provide safety and convenience to contact your child
  • Devices and computers are great entertainment for kids
  • Some games and apps can be educational

For kids:

  • A great way to connect with friends and family
  • Is used for assignments and online resources
  • Provides a space to express themselves
  • Creates avenues for young people to develop their unique identity

"Like most things in life, balance is the key!"

- Jen, Parentline Counsellor

Why might a child become addicted to technology?

There may be many things that lead to technology addiction in children. It depends on the child, their personality and their life circumstances.

Here are some things that may put a child at risk of technology addiction:

  • Technology is the only thing that helps a child wind down, have fun, or manage stress and difficult emotions
  • Technology use is compulsive and the child feels unable to stop
  • They prioritise technology use over family, friends and other interests
  • It can be the result of peer group pressures and the need to belong or be accepted

What are the warning signs?

It's normal for kids to experience mood changes and to lose interest in things they used to enjoy.

But when these things seem unusual or concerning to you, it could mean something more.

Here are some things to look out for:

Dishonesty about technology use

Disruption in daily activities and routines

Difficulties concentrating in school

Changes in mood (increased irritability, anger and anxiety)

Decrease in personal hygiene including sleep patterns

Strong emotional response when unable to have access to technology

Tips to help your kids have a healthy relationship with technology

Supporting your kids to create a balance can be a team effort!

Here are some things parents can do:

  • Make a plan: talk through what appropriate use looks like, and establish clear and consistent rules around where, when and how technology will be used  
  • Understand and be aware of use: if you notice any changes in your kids' online behaviour or usage, check in with them
  • Encourage taking time to ‘unplug’: provide lots of opportunities for the family to take time out from the tech world, eg. no phones/screens at dinner time
  • Remember you’re a role model: take notice of your tech use as well! Kids are more likely to take the rules on board if they see a healthy balance is part of your routine too

Where to get support

If you feel like technology is becoming an issue for your kids, it’s important to get help:

  • Talk to a family counsellor
  • Chat with a GP 
  • Check in with school supports 
  • Call Parentline in your state or territory

Give us a call!

Tried everything but not sure what to do next?

This content was last reviewed 31/10/2018

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