Did you know that there are rehabilitation centers for kids (and grown-ups too!) who can’t step away from the screen? Experts liken the withdrawal that these “addicts” experience while abstaining from digital diversions to the discomfort felt by drug addicts and alcoholics. But what if you want to nip your kid’s digital dependency in the bud before it becomes a full-blown disorder? Here are a few tips for “rehabilitating” your youngster before the problem becomes unmanageable.
### Give a Warning
Quitting anything cold turkey is bound to cause discomfort, and not just for your child. Before you give the unplug order, sit down and talk about the problem. Let your kid know what your concerns are, whether it be problems at school, moodiness, or social withdrawal. These are all signs that your child’s real life is being hindered by his or her virtual reality. Explain to your child that you’ll be setting limits on his or her online usage and—this is important—be sure to tell your kid why. Communicate your sincere care and concern in a calm manner, and let your child know that you’re not taking away digital privileges as punishment, but as an effort to help him or her achieve a healthy tech-life balance.
### Make a Schedule
As your child is “detoxing” from digital endeavors, it can be helpful to have a predictable schedule. This will give him something to look forward to each day and ease the transition. Consider weaning your child off of the computer or video game console slowly, perhaps by a half-hour or hour per week.
### Set a Good Example
Even if you think you’re already a good digital role model, cutting down on your own technology use during your child’s detox period can be helpful. This will give you time to do things IRL (in real life) with your child. Go outside, break out some good old-fashioned board games, or just have a face-to-face conversation. You’ll be surprised at what a bonding experience it can be for the two of you! Although detoxing at home is usually the best solution, be sure to look for signs that your child needs some additional help outside of the home. If he or she appears depressed or is having trouble controlling emotions like sadness or anger, then it may be time to consult a professional.
Four Beds Ready to Treat Internet Addicts http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/07/health/internet-addiction-treatment-center/
Internet Fasting Camps for Kids: Good Idea, or Too Extreme? http://www.suescheffblog.com/internet-fasting-camps-for-teens-good-idea-or-too-extreme/