This blog is sponsored by Right from the Start.
by Monica Cobis
Tired of screaming at your kid to get off of that device? How many of you now converse with the top of your kid’s head more than having a face to face conversation? Are they OR you becoming addicted to 24/7 access to social media?
You are not alone. Over 340 million people in the United States use the internet. In the adult population, 8-14% have a clinical internet addiction. Teenage boys spend on average 11 hours a week on video games. There are books, YouTube videos and internet sites that teach boys how to text (and sometimes sext) a girl. The highest risk of those online are 11-15-year-olds, with 70% of those in this category being girls.
We at Right from the Start, Inc., see digital delinquency as a major societal issue. In this digital age, we all need to learn new rules for engagement or our families will become fragmented. We see the consequences of addiction and access in the students that we serve. If you are unaware of what is going on out there, let us shed some light on the situation.
In 2015, we invited Jesse Weinberger, an internet safety expert to conduct a study here in Columbus. She surveyed over 700 Columbus students attending one public and one private middle school. She found that the average number of social media accounts these students had was 4.5. Cyberbullying was the number one issue in 6th grade with sexting being number one in 7th grade. Most kids admitted to having at least one account that their parents did not know about. Seventy percent stated that their parents had no idea what they were doing online. These are local statistics! Do you know that the boogeyman is in your child’s back pocket?
We hear the horror stories of what can happen online. Maybe some of us are living them right now in our own homes. But did you know that the number one problem with over usage is not neurological but RELATIONAL? Ever tried to have a conversation with someone who cannot put their phone down? Relationships suffer and go malnourished because of overuse and abuse of a device. This is the main tragedy in all of this.
Even I recognized that I was spending an hour a night before bed going through Facebook or reading national news. Sometimes I would look up and two hours would have passed. Yes, I knew I was getting tired and, yes, I have done this before with a good book, but this time I could not seem to release my fingers around this rectangular apparatus. It no longer became a tool for information but deluded my natural instincts for sleep. Now I put the device in another room and am back to using my digital clock as an alarm.
Jesse Weinberger suggests no phones until age 14 and no social media until age 13. This will keep youngsters out of drama, bullying, and enticement of online games, etc. Also, parents need to set time limits and put blocks on their children’s phones. You can gather resources on how to do this at overnightgeekuniversity.com and screenagersmovie.com. Teachers can utilize Cyberwise.org resources or one can contact Right from the Start, Inc. for presentations at your school or organization.
FREE Showing of Screenagers
Get this…we are actually going to do something relational about this topic. We care so much about your children and their welfare that we are offering a FREE showing of Screenagers, an award-winning documentary about kids in the digital age. The creator of this film is a medical doctor and a Mom who saw kids spending 6.5 hours a day looking at screens. She also dealt with the frustration and friction of setting rules and boundaries around this issue with her own children.
“In SCREENAGERS, as with her award-winning documentaries on mental health, Delaney takes a deeply personal approach as she probes into the vulnerable corners of family life, including her own, to explore struggles over social media, video games, academics and internet addiction. Through poignant, and unexpectedly funny stories, along with surprising insights from authors, psychologists, and brain scientists, and kids. SCREENAGERS reveals how tech time impacts kids’ development and offers solutions on how adults can empower kids to best navigate the digital world and find balance.” (www.screenagersmovie/about)
Join us on Monday, April 30th at 6:30 p.m at Christ Community Church, 4078 Milgen Road, Columbus, GA 31907
A lively discussion will ensue after the documentary with a parent guide, digital contract, and resources for each family to take home. This is a FREE family event and we invite you in order to make a difference in YOUR homes and community.
Drag your kids to the 68-minute film; set up a family contract and rules and head home with teenagers screaming for their devices while you as the parent set parameters that keep your kids healthy and safe in this digital world.