For parents wondering what they can do to protect their child from the potential risks of excessive smartphone use, experts offer these suggestions:
- Put the phone away one hour before going to bed.
- Limit the amount of leisure time spent in front of a screen to two hours per day (this doesn’t include time spent on a computer doing homework).
- Prohibit cell phones at dinner. It’s a way to enforce good quality time together.
- Set your child’s phone up with one of the apps that track and control how much time they are on it.
- Make time for face-to-face interaction.
Nguyen recommends parents cultivate the habit of scheduling one-on-one dates with each of their children to have meaningful conversations without the distraction of a cell phone around.
Working parents might find stress and fatigue make it difficult to carve out the time, but establishing a rapport that goes deeper than superficial questions and one-word answers is key to finding out how your child is feeling about life, she said.
“If we don’t do this… the internet is parenting our children,” Nguyen said.