The consequences of smartphone addiction are starting to show through in school grades and some strange behaviors.
The World Health Organization states that young people addicted to web browsing on their smartphones become socially isolated and begin to experience “feelings of anger, tension, anxiety and/or depression. In addition, according to experts, they are likely to end up living alone in the future after losing family, work and friends.
How can you spot the signs of addiction in your child? The SFAM (Société Française d’Assurances Multirisques) gives us some advice on its many websites (https://sfam.eu/fr-fr/, https://blog.sfam.eu/, https://sfam-group.eu/fr-fr/, https://www.assurances-sfam.fr). Here is a short summary.
How do I know if my son is addicted to the Internet?
In many ways, being a parent in the digital age is more complicated than before, as there are fewer and fewer opportunities to spend time with children. For this reason, during the holidays and especially at weekends, it is necessary to pay special attention to the mood of your children or teenagers. Indeed, if children’s mood changes radically and becomes irritable or even violent when their mobile phone is confiscated, you may be dealing with a possible addiction .
Another point to consider is the child’s involvement in social and family events. If children always find the perfect excuse to dodge conversations or family events, there is a good chance that they will become addicted.
No less alarming is the fact that if the time your child spends on their smartphone is affecting their personal hygiene or normal daily activities (especially sleep), it’s high time to take action.
Lying, hiding, and breaking family rules to spend more time on a smartphone are also signs that can indicate addiction.
Where’s the danger?
A study of young smartphone users concluded that 44% of minors between the ages of 8 and 16 are constantly online, and 73% of teenagers between the ages of 14 and 16 can’t imagine their lives without a smartphone. Similarly, 40% of minors claim to have revealed personal information about themselves or their family.
According to SFAM, despite the high connectivity index and the risks that exist, most parents (56%) give smartphones to their children so that they can always be in contact with them in case of need or emergency. Also, among the children surveyed, 31% admit to having made a financial transaction via the Internet and would like to do so again. 57% of respondents use their real name online, 47% use their real age and 40% share the school they attend. This small amount of data creates profiles that are of interest to cybercriminals, allowing them to kidnap, impersonate or harass children.
Thanks to new technologies and the Internet, our society has changed a lot. Indeed, the digital world is here to stay and, as Charles Darwin said, “the species that survive are neither the strongest nor the smartest; they are the ones that adapt to change”. And we have to be aware that we have to adapt to the technological changes that take place on a daily basis.
However, we must not ignore the risks and threats that affect all users in general, and children and adolescents in particular. There is no doubt that technology is good for a child’s progress. But we, as parents, must also take responsibility for training and educating our children to use new social media responsibly.