Facebook PixelCan we come up with a way to protect children from tech addiction?
Brainstorming session

Can we come up with a way to protect children from tech addiction?

Can we come up with a way to protect children from tech addiction?

Image credit: Kelly Sikkema / unsplash.com

By Darko Savic on Aug 25, 2020

Creative contributions

Printed magazines and DIY kits

About 4 years ago, my colleagues and I thought of the very same thing. We had one other problem to solve - bridging the gap between science in the research labs and science in the school textbooks. There seems to be a huge gap between the two. We, therefore, came up with a printed science magazine for school kids. Since all of us were in the midst of our PhDs and could not dedicate a lot of time to the magazine, we started it as a quarterly magazine (4 magazines per year). We deliberately created content that described the latest scientific breakthroughs in the world. We had sections on the kind of work we do in our labs, the instruments we use, and how they work. We also explained researches that led to the Nobel Prize in simple language. The articles were written by our colleagues from different disciplines of science. The highlight was a do-it-yourself section of the magazine. It included simple but attractive experiments you can perform at home or in your backyard. Whenever possible, we provided the paper cut-outs, stickers, information cards, etc. along with the magazine. The response was great. Parents thanked us because their kids spent time away from the screens.

by Shubhankar Kulkarni on Aug 25, 2020

Darko Savic a month ago

That's an amazing project/idea. It got me thinking:) I wish the public education system worldwide organized and ran such projects. Students could write for high schoolers, those would write for primary schoolers, those would write for kindergarteners. The goal would be to bring the younger generations up to date on the most interesting aspects of what older generations are currently interested in. With only a few years gap between the generations, each would be able to capture the target audience's interest/attention very well....

Darko Savic a month ago

This might be a project idea worthy of sharing on the platform...

Shubhankar Kulkarni a month ago

Yes, please do share! It will also solve the problem of what kind of knowledge and experience companies and job providers expect from you....

Here are some things that may help…

•Change the display screen to grayscale. The colourful wallpapers and apps on our phones set off the brain’s reward system to make you feel good. You should be able to change the display screen colours by going into the accessibility section of your phone settings. •Download apps that limit your screen time. Nowadays people can be glued to phone and computer screens 24/7, because of this big issue; many developers have created apps that can limit your screen time. Whenever you click on a certain app it will block your access to it! Voila! These apps can be easily found in the app store, play store, etc. •Spend time doing other activities. Technology has become the main form of entertainment for kids and even adults. We should try to promote activities which don’t include technology. This can be done by taking up new hobbies like painting, playing board games, exercising, reading a book, etc. •Be a great example. If your kids see you on your phone or laptop all the time, you will be setting an example right in front of them. Try to set an example for them by limiting your own screen time and by being more involved with them. :)

by Jamila Ahmed on Aug 25, 2020

Aohona Datta a month ago

Interestingly, the last point urges me to focus on my status of tech addiction! If I have to limit screen time in order to prevent my child from picking up the habit, then am I not addicted myself? If that is the case, then, are we even aware of our addiction?...

Shubhankar Kulkarni a month ago

This can be a separate brainstorming session....

Jamila Ahmed a month ago

very very true! I guess we don't realise how much we depend on our tech! ...

Dress code – 90’s

Promote absence of digital technology and do it not by bans and prohibition, but by emphasizing what’s cool about not using it. It’s not just about kids, it’s about everyone. Let’s face it – artificial reality is already here and we are living in it every day for many hours. The use of computers and especially smartphones is so extensive now, that restraining from their use for a longer time would feel like living in a different reality, and it would actually be that, because many hours per day staring into a screen and interacting virtually with people, using services there, relying on maps to guide your way and working there equals living in a digital space, where are no real, tangible things. When you take yourself out of the virtuality of the screen you get more real touch with your surroundings, you see material things, you interact with humans directly, we are exponentially loosing this experience. Leaving your phone at home is already like going back in time at least for a decade. My friend was telling me the other day how interesting it was for him to go to a recent exhibition of 90’s technology and household gears, even though we both actually lived in that decade as kids and it wasn’t so very long ago, a lot has changed and we actually live in a very different world now. Imagine how interesting it would be to relive it in an actual environment for a short (or maybe not so short?) period of time. Having a party in a 90’s home with your friends, finding what to do without using smartphones and even pc: watching an old movie through a non-flat screen TV, listening to vinyls (ok, there were CDs already, but vinyls are cooler), playing board games, singing songs around campfire.. It actually seems like a good business idea to prepare those kind of low technology spaces for people to spend time in, like “rent an 80’s homestead near the lake and leave your smartphone at home”. It could be a place without any modern technology at all, it could be a place with technology evolved till certain point (I feel that TV is a borderline, it’s a start of virtual reality) or the whole environment could be matched stylistically with a particular decade: technology, architecture, furniture, clothes, etc. Even promoting a no smartphone day would be a good start, I thought that kind of day already exists, but my own efforts to find information on something like that were unsuccessful. Maybe someone has heard about it? Otherwise would be a good initiative to start it. I think it’s not an overstatement to say that people also don’t get actually together that much because of technology either, or if they do, they are partly in it, soon virtual parties might get more popular, you can already join those with a VR headset and meet people all around the world. If there’s no smartphone in your pocket to soak your attention, it’s a totally different feel of the party, you are actually present, those parties in 90’s, 80’s, 70’s and beyond were more real in that sense, there was no artificial reality to be in.. It’s one of the reasons why vinyls stay in fashion and sometimes their sales exceed sales of digital records (https://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/dec/06/tables-turned-as-vinyl-records-outsell-digital-in-uk-for-first-time; https://www.digitalmusicnews.com/2019/09/08/vinyl-overtake-cd-sales/), it’s one of the reasons why people like old cars and just in general - old stuff, old movies, etc. – it gives you a taste of different reality, which is more material, more tangible and in that sense - more real. Why do you think Stranger Things creators chose that particular decade to be pictured even though the plot is very futuristic? It gives you that feel.. I think most of us, at least those who got the taste of it in the childhood are already longing for it. I certainly do. What about you?

by Povilas S on Aug 27, 2020

Darko Savic a month ago

Simplified, your suggestion is to live a "themed" lifestyle - and pick a theme that doesn't involve addictive tech. Amish take this concept to the extreme. The 90's theme is the closest to our modern way of living while missing the addictive tech component. I would argue that TV is the first addictive tech (even the 80's tv). Before that it was books:)...

Povilas S a month ago

Yes and also important thing is that virtual reality is interesting, because it's something new, a new experience, but if you lived like a month without at least your smartphone it would also be a new experience, already forgotten, which is also interesting, just requires some guts to do it. About TV - yes of course there were always some alternatives - books, radio, etc., but the difference with TV, as I see it, is that your sight is already trapped in a different place than your physical surroundings, before it the only thing to do that was your imagination....

No-screen Sundays

This idea got me thinking https://brainstorming.com/r/i20 As a start, there could be a no-screen Sunday where parents make it a point to explain to their children that on Sundays there are no screens allowed for anyone in the family (not even the parents), all devices are turned off and stowed away until Monday morning. To make it a good, rememberable experience the family should then have maximum fun (seemingly because of it) to illustrate the positive side of real human-to-human interactions

by Darko Savic on Aug 31, 2020

Povilas S 25 days ago

I think the more into a game/interesting task you'd turn this (especially for kids, but for everyone), the easier and more natural it will go, otherwise resistance will build up if you simply force it on. So it should be well thought before, how to make it into an interesting thing. Like for example to present a task beforehand, that everyone should come up with ideas what fun could they do without screens, what to play together, where to go, etc. The older generation could show pictures and tell stories of what they used to do when there were no such technology available and that it will be like a leap back in time, etc. In fact the older ones could be the guides in activities (at least at first), cause they have experienced life without screens. Old stuff could be brought from basements and attics to catalyze the interest....

Darko Savic a month ago

I'm trying this out for the next 3 Sundays to see how it goes:)...

Try to minimize without Eradicating

** We can substitute time on the computer with some enjoyable things, such as drawing, reading, writing, and playing instruments. Other feasible child-friendly activities include indoor-outdoor sports, aerobic exercises, or brain teasers. ** We should never use technology as a maid. Kids are more likely to benefit from limited screen time when their parents sit down and talk to them about the shows or web material they're watching. We have to keep our child aware that watching too much TV or playing games on your computer is not safe. Explain how violent video games, videos, and photographs can be unsafe for children. Also, talk about the possible dangers of online predators. ** We may construct a hierarchy of goals that need to be enforced. We should set the rules for what needs to be completed before they can have screen time, such as completing homework, cleaning, preparing for school, and taking part in family time. Act slowly to minimize their screen time rather than completely remove it. Today's children live in a digital and social media-energized environment. They know more about technology than the adults do. That's why we need to keep up-to-date with the new mobile phone applications or the latest social media craze. It's a fact that we can't tell our child the dangers of social media unless you understand the risks yourself. So, first of all, try to educate ourself ** A modern-day television emits blue lights that can make the brain more active. When children use them just before bedtime, this problem will disrupt normal sleep and affect the sleep habits of the children. We should take off our kids' devices an hour before bedtime because it would be dangerous to their emotional, physical, and social well-being. Children who use mobile phones, TV, computers, or any screen within an hour of bedtime can experience mental fogginess-like symptoms. It makes it harder for them to fall asleep, stay asleep, and wake up refreshed in the morning. In short, moderate use of digital technology appears to be beneficial to children's mental well-being, although no usage or overuse may have a negative effect. We can incorporate any of these strategies to reduce our child's screen time without even realizing them.

by Mohammad Shazaib on Aug 31, 2020

Reward system: nurturing by entertaining

Children are fragile and in particular during their young ages they can be very sensible to our actions and or behaviors. So, if we assume that at certain point - very likely it was parents´ fault - they developed the habit to spend most of their time in front of a screen (laptop, cell phone or tablet) and now we want to suddenly take this out, they will perceive it like an injustice. Such thing may stay, may tell them “adults” or - even worst - parents are unfair. They are “big” and they can do whatever they like just cause they can. So what if we take one of the previous suggestions from Mohammad Shazaib and Jamila Ahmed and we combine it? We may think about an option called “ Tasks to Unlock”. The principle is simple: we need it to be a game and the price is the possibility to use the cell phone. Of course we can not just take away the phone, but let´s say we set up a timer of 2 hours. The child has 2 hours that will start ticking as he/she uses certain app: games, social networks. The 2 hours are done. The apps can not longer be used. What now? We take advantage of the accelerometer system ( for example ) and the child has to “exercise” a certain amount of time to clock back the timer to 2 hours. If he exercises for 5 minutes, then he has 5 minutes on the phone to play or so. If he exercises 1 hours, then he can now have 1 hour of time to play around with the phone. This may be also achieved by performing other tasks: reading ( some ebook apps like iOS keeps track on how much time you are reading ), homework ( you may have an app that requires you to do a quick multiple choice test to confirm that you got the lesson, each correct answers gives you a certain amount of time to use your phone to play ). This way you are: - reducing the time they are spending on the screen - motivate them to do some cardio and/or studying/ reading and this is set in a “game-like” fashion when they earn a price/rearwards. There is no injustice, no unfairness. This is the way the cellphone works: 2 hours, if you want more than you need to do some thing about this. This may also have the positive outcome to help them understanding also time-management. All of this, without giving up on the fun part. What do you think?

by Antonio Carusillo on Aug 31, 2020

Jamila Ahmed 25 days ago

That's a pretty good way to go about it. You're giving them a limit to how much screen time they get, but you are also promoting non-tech stuff by making them work for their screen time. This way they can see what sort of non-tech options are available and they might even like them more :)...

Darko Savic 25 days ago

This could potentially also backfire. On the one side, it teaches the child to invest effort/work into things that matter - which is good. On the other side, it increases the value perception for screen-gadgets. What will happen in situations when the child gets the power to decide? They will likely indulge in everything they were deprived of. A good solution would have to include repetitive teaching on why addictions are bad and how exactly they backfire on a person, how we can be mindful of them, etc....

Antonio Carusillo 24 days ago

I definitely see your point. My hope, with this method, is that - given enough time - the child by experiencing the “life beyond the screen” will actually start valuing more the other activities than the screen and start seeing cell-phone/table or other techs as a “break time” or a way to improve the other activities ( staying connecting with friends, learn new skills to apply to the “real world” like playing an instrument or just reading for fun). So at this point, the next question is: if you manage to make the child using this system, will the child detach much more easily from the screen and enjoy other activities? Will a certain point the child on is own - when this kind of time-limit is removed - plan is own time? My feeling of gut would be - not surprisingly - that the sooner you adopt such method the easier will be to observe some results. Meaning that if you do not give the time for the addiction to develop, the child will more easily prone to put the tech on the side and use the time for other activities. I think that nevertheless it is important to base it on a “reward system”, so that the cell-phone is given (reward) and not taken away (deprivation). Which is something true, since the child was not born holding a cell phone but it was given in a second moment. Such message should be kept. Of course the reward system should be playful. ...

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Darko Savic a month ago

Good luck getting our kids out of virtual reality gear once they start liking it more than real life...

Povilas S a month ago

Yes, and I would add, that kids growing up these days already grow in a mixture of material and virtual realities so they don't even know "real life" in a way that we knew it as kids. VR headsets only put additional dimension to what's essentially already in smartphones and PCs....

Darko Savic a month ago

Agreed. If we are addicted to "low-tech" VR, what will happen when high tech VR is readily available...

Shubhankar Kulkarni 22 days ago

I hope VR does not replace sports. Imagine Neymar hitting a world cup goal from his living room, hooked on to a VR :)...