An estimated $23 billion is spent annually to make apps, playing online games and social media harder to stop. Considering many apps are marketed to two to seventeen-year-olds, young children and teens are being placed at a higher-than-ever risk for developing addictive tendencies that mirror adult gambling.
Studies have shown that in the United States:
- Forty-five percent of teens check their phone every hour.
- The average teen spends nine hours on screen time daily.
- Fifty percent of teens feel addicted to their mobile devices.
“The parallels between children’s behavior with regard to cell phones and online activity and adult gambling behaviors are unmistakable; the gaming activity often mirrors adult gambling games, and kids learn early to take chances on leveling up or getting better loot in the games,” said Stacey Frohnapfel-Hasson, Prevention Chief, Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.
Digital Detox 101 is a program launched by the Montgomery County Prevention Coalition that focuses on easing children and teens’ fixation on their cell phones and computer screens. It is designed to encourage parents and kids to develop healthy relationships with their devices.
Following are some good practices to get your children started on that will help ease their dependence on screens:
- Charging phones away from the bed.
- Don’t use phones as alarm clocks.
- Putting phones away during meals.
- Setting a daily screen time limit for specific apps.
As well as working towards easing children and teens’ fixation on their cell phones and computer screens, the Digital Detox 101 program outlines recognizing signs of digital and social media dependency. These can include feeling distressed, anxious, or depressed when being away from devices for a length of time.
In addition to Digital Detox 101, Change the Game Ohio is another excellent resource that was developed to raise awareness of the realities of youth gambling and to connect parents, educators, and children to the resources available for prevention and treatment. Concerned about a loved one’s gambling? Get free and confidential help 24/7 at 1-800-589-9966.