The Positives and Negatives of Electronics Part 1

Electronics And Gaming Addiction

I set out to research all the negative and/or damaging effects of technology and electronics use on children. I wanted to find all the reasons why we should put an end to this technology “obsession.” And sure, I found it. What I was more surprised to find were the positive effects. I found idea after idea about why we need to embrace technology and help children do the same. I learned there are a lot of misconceptions about technology and the reasons why children use it. I guess really what I learned is if you can’t beat them, join them!

But let’s teach them how. I define electronic use as the use of tablets, smart phones, computers, and video game consoles for the purposes of texting, video games, video chatting, and social media. This could be for business, school, or pleasure. However, there are times when we just need to turn off and unplug. It really is best to use and enjoy all things in moderation. That’s easier said than done. First, children WANT to be engaged with their electronics. The simple answer to get them to walk away is to make it worth THEIR time. Offer incentives; hire them to help YOU with household tasks (not their chores), offer rewards and praise when they focus on obligations, chores, and homework. You can even offer them extra time later for not playing now. If it’s worth it, they will do it. Just remember to keep rewards, incentives, and payments reasonable. Second, there are times when you just won’t be able to avoid conflict and anger. It happens, we’re human. In an attempt to be proactive and reduce the possibility, offer countdown warnings that free time will be ending, that it’s time to put it down. Walking in to the room and saying “times up” is a crash course to an outburst. Set timers and offer reminders at 15, 10, and 5 minutes. This also helps in teaching transitioning skills. When it can’t be avoided and the outburst happens, focus on separating the emotions from the behavior in addition to problem solving.

During an outburst or argument, attempting to get your child to understand and accept logic and rationalization is futile. The famous “because I said so” is just fuel to their emotional fire. Empathize with their emotions: “I know you’re upset because you want to play,” “I understand how frustrated you must feel.” Once they are calm, a more logical discussion can then take place. Let’s be honest with ourselves. Getting them to stop just isn’t that easy. Children seem so “addicted” to these devices. Common belief and assumption is that electronic use creates social isolation in today’s youth. Research indicates it’s actually the opposite.

Continue to Part 2

Joe Lilly LMSW