Digital device dependency grows amid pandemic, experts say
If you think your child's attachment to digital devices is concerning, experts say it's gotten worse since the start of the pandemic.
Mental health experts say for many people, submerging themselves in the world inside their digital devices has become a way to cope with the loss of social interaction.
"The key is that kids express these emotions, loneliness, sadness, hopelessness," Miguel De La Fuente, a licensed professional counselor, said. "They can't be with their friends, and they have these negative emotions."
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, parents of kids and teens from ages five through 18 should consider placing limits on the amount of phone and screen time used.
"We resort to other things to calm us down," De La Fuente said. "Some people use alcohol, too much eating, and some use social media."
Professionals say cell phone use gives the brain a soothing effect, leading children to receive comfort from the device rather than exercise, social interaction, or even the loved ones around them.
"It's not as easy as saying, 'I am taking the phone away,'" De La Fuente said. "Because guess what? They are going to look for something else to soothe themselves."
While taking screens away cold turkey may not help right away, experts say modeling good screen time behavior and introducing activities that can be done without the digital devices can help break kids away from the screen addiction.
Counselors say teaching kids the importance of limiting screen time is vital, but be prepared for pushback since this has been clutch for them for more than a year.