Mobile phones have many benefits, and most parents welcome them into their home. A mobile phone makes communication easier and can work as a pre-installed geo-tracker for your child. However, when left unchecked, mobile phone usage can become addictive. Studies by the U.S. National PTA reveal that an average American child spends more than six hours a day glued to their mobile phone screens.
Most parents do not need any study to tell them that. They see it for themselves in their homes.
The clinical community defines addiction to mobile phones as a behavioral disorder. Regular use of mobile phones is okay if it’s in moderation. However, it becomes a problem when the child uses it repetitively, compulsively, or obsessively. For example, according to research by Common Sense Media, 78 percent of teenagers feel the need to check their devices at least once an hour, while 72 percent feel the need to respond to a text or social media message immediately.
Children are using mobile phones as a drug. They turn to apps and games when they are feeling lonely, lazy, tired, or bored. Social media has become a place to comment, criticize, admire, and approve of others. Therefore, they are turning to it to look for likes and responses to their own opinions and posts. Biologically, studies reveal that the brain can release dopamine in response to a mobile phone ringing or a text alert.
So what can parents do about it? How can parents ensure their children enjoy the benefits of mobile phones without becoming addicted?
1) Martial Arts
Martial arts don’t just teach your child how to defend himself/herself. It has a lot of physical, social, and mental advantages as well. In order to understand how martial arts can help cure your child’s mobile phone addiction, you need to learn its benefits. They include:
- Increased self-confidence
- Improved focus
- Improved listening skills
- Encourages positive social interactions
- Improves self-discipline
- Encourages respect and obedience of rules
- Better self-control and good decision making
- Gives your child an outlet
According to behavioral studies, children are constantly checking their Snapchat and Facebook accounts as a way to seek approval from others. However, martial arts is a better and healthier way for them to learn to interact with others while becoming more confident in themselves and their abilities.
Mastering different martial arts techniques gives your child a sense of accomplishment, which boosts their self-esteem and confidence in a way that a social media ‘like’ never will.
Punching and kicking in a martial arts gym are secondary to the respect that a child is taught from the minute they walk into the gym. They have to bow to their instructors, and they are constantly taught to obey their teachers, parents, and peers. They are taught respect for martial arts rules, as well as the rules their parents set at home.
Children are very easily bored and distracted, and apps and social media easily rob their attention. A great portion of martial arts deals with focus. Your child will learn to be still and to pay attention. Developing proper martial arts techniques requires learning other skills such as proper breathing, meditation, stillness, and listening. These are all skills that your child can use outside the dojo to help them conquer their mobile phone addiction.
The childhood and teenage years can be very distressing and stressful, and a lot of children use social media apps on their phones as outlets. However, they can redirect all this pent-up emotion to martial arts. Whether they are stressed or angry, martial arts is a better outlet than oversharing or bullying other people on social media.
Above all, martial arts encourages self-discipline and self-control. Martial arts instill in your child the ability to concentrate on a task and see it to completion. It also encourages your child to train hard in order to achieve a certain task or set of behavior, even if they feel they would rather be doing something else. All of this is taught in a fun environment, and your child quickly learns that self-control and self-discipline can be rewarding. These lessons translate to other areas of their life. For example, they can practice self-control and self-discipline by concentrating on what their teacher is saying instead of responding to a text message from their friend, even if they feel the need to. After a while, they will become less addicted to their mobile phones.
2) Set parenting limits
As a parent, you can set rules to limit your child’s mobile phone use. For example, you can make it clear that mobile phones are not allowed during dinner time. You can also give them a maximum data allotment, and cut off the internet once they reach this limit.
3) Set a good example
If you are a swiping zombie who spends a lot of time on your mobile phone, your child will likely pick up on this habit. Therefore, the best way to cure your child’s addiction is to lead by example. Pledge to take a tech-fast or a tech-time-out in your home. Pledge that at certain times during the day, everybody in the house should put the mobile phone away and interact with other family members on a personal level. You can use this time to take part in other activities such as reading books or doing chores. Your child is more likely to let go of the mobile phone for a while each day if you are willing to do it too.
4) Find activities to replace mobile phone use
Don’t just limit mobile phone use. Find other activities to replace it. Encourage your child to play board games or watch movies together as a family. You can also enroll your child in dance class, music class, or martial arts so that they can find another way to alleviate boredom while expressing themselves.
A mobile phone addiction takes your child out of the moment and drains their attention. It also has a lot of negative effects on their physical and mental health. For example, they are more likely to have eye strain, neck pain, and bad posture. As a parent, you can create rules to limit mobile phone usage in the home. However, you need a child who is obedient and disciplined, or implementing these limits and rules could prove to be an uphill battle.
The best approach is to teach your child how to self-regulate so that you are not policing them or telling them what to do. Activities such as martial arts can teach the child self-discipline and self-control so that they choose to put that mobile phone down willingly.
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