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Technology addiction: FAQs

If my teen has a technology addiction, why not ban usage of technology altogether?

Banning the usage of internet or cellphones can make your teen more irritable and angry. Sometimes, teens withdraw and stop communicating with friends and family if they are kept from their phones or computer screens. This is why mental health professionals suggest limiting usage, rather than an outright ban. “A ban does not work in making someone stop using something they are addicted to – take the ban on smoking for instance. Individual control and motivation is the best way to fix this problem,” says Dr Manoj Sharma, SHUT Clinic, NIMHANS.

How do I know if I am addicted?

If you think you’re spending more time than necessary on your phone, here are some questions that can help you understand if you are using the phone to an unhealthy extent. (Read about the signs and symptoms of addciction here

I think I am addicted to my phone. What should I do?

If you want to control or limit your usage, here are some tips::

  • Use your cell phone only when necessary
  • Keep calls brief
  • Try not to use your phone when you’re spending time with family or friends
  • Keep your phone away during some activities: driving, studying, eating, exercising
  • Set yourself a certain amount of time and money to spend on your cellphone every day and try not to exceed it
  • If you are unable to control your cell phone usage, you may need to contact a counselor or a mental health professional
  • Try to check your e-mail, text or whatsapp messages at specific times of the day (every two hours or so) to avoid using it all day

Making the necessary lifestyle changes can help you get into a healthier routine in a time span of three to six months.

This list has been collated with reference to http://www.nimhans.kar.nic.in/ncw/leaflets2.pdf

What is the role of parents in managing a child’s technology addiction?

Parents are likely to be concerned about their child’s health and academic performance when they discover that their child is addicted to the internet. If you are the parent of a child who is addicted to technology, you can help them by:

  • Not panicking. Dependence on technology can be reduced if you seek help.

  • Building more positive communication, so you can have a healthy conversation with your child without criticizing them for their excessive use of technology
  • Reinforcing non-tech-centered activities in order to help your child make the necessary lifestyle changes; it is important to involve your child and give them a say in any of these plans or decisions.
  • Trying to understand what needs the child may be meeting by spending time online
  • Seeking help for your feelings of panic and worry, so that you are able to support your child better
  • Being aware about the problem and understanding how it can be managed
  • Setting specific times when the whole family logs off from the internet – at mealtimes and at an appointed day of the week or weekend
  • Setting an example by switching off your phone or computer during “family time”