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Is Your Kid Addicted? Here’s What To Do

News. Dana Boyd, researcher at Microsoft, founder of Data & Society and a kids and gadget expert, has some good tips for parents worrying about their kids’ addiction to their Smartphones. It is about verbalizing what you do, making a contract and not doing what the mother in Black Mirror’s Arkangel does.

“Parents don’t like to see that they’re part of the problem or that their efforts to protect and help their children might backfire,” she writes and refers to Black Mirror episode called “Arkangel” (trailer here).

Arkangel is about a mother, so afraid of losing sight and control of her daughter that she tries out “Arkangel,” an electronic chip wired painlessly into her daughter’s brain that allows the mother to see what the daughter is seeing, to pinpoint her location at any time, and to blur out things that might elevate the daughter’s cortisol levels, like a local dog who barks, when she walks past.

So, the opposite of doing what the mother is doing in Archangel is following, according to Dana Boyd:

1 Verbalizing Tech Use

Verbalize what you’re doing with your phone. Whenever you pick up your phone (or other technologies) in front of your kids, say what you’re doing. And involve them in the process if they’d like. “Mama’s trying to figure out how long it will take to get to Bobby’s house. Want to look at the map with me?” or “Daddy’s checking out the weather. Do you want to see what it says?”

“The funny thing about verbalizing what you’re doing is that you’ll check yourself about your decisions to grab that phone”, she writes.

2 Household Contracts

Create a household contract. This is a contract that sets the boundaries for everyone in the house — parents and kids. Ask your teenage or tween child to write the first draft of the contract.

3 Parenting Past Addiction

Finally, she write following: When you feel as though your child has an unhealthy relationship with technology (or anything else in their life), you need to start by asking if they see this the same way you do…. and the best thing you can do is try to understand why the disconnect exists.

“At the end of the day, parenting is about helping children navigate the world and support them to develop agency in a healthy manner,” she writes, “That requires communication and energy, not a new technology to police boundaries for you. More often than not, the latter sends the wrong message and backfires, not unlike the Black Mirror episode I mentioned earlier.”

Read Dana Boyd’s column here