A big thank you to coach Laura Rossillo, AAC for this piece.
In his book, “Irresistable”, Adam Atler states, “For ninety minutes, Jobs explained why the iPad was the best way to look at photos, listen to music, take classes on iTunes U, browse Facebook, play games, and navigate thousands of apps. He believed everyone should own an iPad. But he refused to let his kids use the device. Compared to the clunky technology of the 1990s and early 2000s, modern tech is efficient and addictive. These new addictions don’t involve the ingestion of a substance. They don’t directly introduce chemicals into your system, but they produce the same effects because they’re compelling and well designed.”So how do we manage ourselves and our kids on these irresistible devices?
First of all, knowing that these devices are addictive is the first step. If we didn’t know this we would not limit ourselves or our children. Truth is these devices are extremely helpful to us, but without proper management they can be the thing that destroys human connection, increases stress and makes us anxious…. even depressed.
Parenting kids today with this rise in technology has become a huge challenge. I can personally say that this screen time issue is a constant battle in my house. I have seen this as such a problem in every household today that I added a session in my parent training on the subject! ADHD or no ADHD, these screens are addictive. What you do need to know, however, is that if you or your child has ADHD, they or you are even more susceptible. Especially today, as Adam Atler explains, there are no “stopping cues”. Things go on and never end. This makes it hard for us and our children to stop and self-regulate, even if it doesn’t serve us well.
With that said, there are so many benefits to these devices. Remember having to call 411 to get a phone number you didn’t know and having to pay for it? Hello Google! Or does anyone remember the card catalog at the library?! How about remembering everyone’s birthday? Thank you Facebook! Yes, no one can deny the enormous benefits, but there is a flip side – a major one.
How do you know these devices are a problem? Ask yourself these questions…
Are these devices preventing me or my child from:
-Connecting with others and forming meaningful relationships?
-Going outside and having other experiences?
-Getting enough sleep or exercise?
-Doing things we have to do because we are scrolling Facebook or Instagram or gaming?
-Feeling good because of comparing ourselves to others on social media?
-Managing responsibilities or doing school work?
-Managing emotions and transitions?
Another question may be: Has anyone in my family complained that I’m on my phone too much?
If you or your child answered yes to many of these questions, you may need to make some adjustments. Include your child in the conversation and ask them if they feel they are managing it well. If not, help them come up with a better plan. Model for them the appropriate usage you want to see in your children. Be strict about enforcing shut off times and limits, but connect with your children first to ensure they are part of the decision making, especially with your teenagers. This will create more buy in on their end. Be relatable. We are all struggling with this. Showing them that you too are having a tough time and trying can connect the both of you on the same mission.
We can have a positive relationship with these devices with a proper balance of clear and reasonable limits and collaborating with our children on a family plan.
This is much easier to do when the children are younger, but it’s never too late to start.
About the author: Laura Rossillo, AAC is the founder of Perfectly ADHD LLC. She offers a 5-week Parent Training program designed for parents of school aged children with ADHD. She also supports individuals through private and group coaching sessions, in person or via video conference. Laura’s mission is to empower parents and individuals living with ADHD to appreciate the unique gifts associated with this brain type.