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A large proportion of kids now have tablets of their own, or regularly use their parent’s tablet. This includes toddlers and pre-school children. It is so ‘natural’ for some small children to be using a tablet, that they have even been seen trying to swipe the pages of a magazine! 

I-pads: good or bad?

Is this a good thing? Well really it’s a big experiment. Who knows what long term effect the over use, or use of these devises from a very young age will have on this new generation of children, how will it affect their behaviour and interaction with people?

Some experts are warning to keep young children away from electronic screens in general. Partly due to the negative affect on their social behaviour , but also because of the potentially damaging effect of WI-FI radiation to the child’s health, especially if the tablet is on their lap.
If you are interested in finding out more, there are many sites giving evidence of scientific studies on this subject.

In contrast, to these negative points.  There are many exciting advantages to having an i-pad. There is a developing market with a huge number of Apps which claim to enhance children’s learning and development. It is true that children now have such a vast amount of knowledge at their fingertips, often in the form of fun games, which (I’m sure you’ll agree) is a much more appealing way to learn, than reciting information from a blackboard was in the past.
You might be surprised to hear that I-pad addiction is similar to many other addictions such as drug and alcohol dependency, or gambling addiction. And is actually very common.

How can I tell if I’m addicted?

These are some of the symptoms of i-pad addiction

1. Withdrawal A heroin or alcohol addict will get headaches and shakyness or cold sweats if he or she doesn’t get their fix . Just like this, device addiction has physical withdrawal symptoms as well. In a 2011 study, researchers asked 1,000 college students around the world to go 24 hours without using their smartphones, other mobile devices or the Internet. Many reported symptoms such as anxiety and depression.
If your child is irritable, anxious or sad after having the iPad is taken away, he or she may have an unhealthy attachment to the device.

2. Tolerance The more you use it, the more you need it.
Just like heroin addicts need bigger and bigger hits to get the same effect the more they use that drug, iPad users can also develop a tolerance.
When in the past maybe 10 minutes might have been okay, now you might find that you need an hour or two, maybe three or more. Until you find yourself sneaking it into the bathroom and using it whilst you are on the loo, leaving your poor unsuspecting parents thinking that you’ve got a bad problem with constipation!
If this sounds familiar,  then you’re not the only one.

3. Loss of interest Suddenly you might find that you’re not interested in playing football in the park any more, or lego, board games, dancing, riding your bike or what ever it was you used to like to do. Your world becomes this virtual computer life and other activities start to seem boring, because all you can think about is your next amazing Minecraft building you are planning, or checking your facebook, or flickr account.

4. Lack of control If you find that you can no longer control the amount of time you spend on your tablet and this is often resulting in frequent rows with your parents or guardians, then you are likely to be addicted. Lack of control is also typical of drug addicts/ substance misusers.

5. Deception Just like an alcoholic will hide his whiskey bottle, so will an i-pad addict try to sneak on their tablet at night when they are supposed to be asleep, in the toilet or in a secret place, so that their family or carers don’t get a clear idea of how much screen time they are having
6. An escape from problems Addicts often use a substance or an activity as a way of escaping from bad feelings. This is ofen the case with i-pad addicts too. This cyberworld can become a cosy familiar place to go to get away from stuff that might be going on at home or at school that is making you feel bad. Children who are using the iPad to avoid dealing with sad, stressful, or negative emotions could have a problem.

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Parents too?

Parents complain about their kids being on computer games, or social media, but they don’t realise that they are often on the computer themselves such a lot too, whether it’s work, answering emails, researching, or entertainment. If kids are seeing adults around them using computers alot then they will accept it as a way of life and it may seem like double standards.

This is a hard one to deal with, but, if there is a child or more than one child in a household with a computer addiction problem then I think it’s important to look at how much time the rest of the family are using computers in view of that child.

Time Limits

It’s really important for parents to give children time limits and the younger the kids are when  these are inforced the better. Before the child has a chance to increase their tolerance levels, so that they feel like they need more time.
It is fun and can be a great way to learn, but it’s important to weigh up what you are losing by spending extra time on the i-pad. Stop and think, is this really what I want, or am I caught in a trap, an addiction?

Be honest with yourself and if you feel that you are spending too much time on the computer and it’s got out of control, then give yourself a break, take a few days off, or a week, challenge yourself to do it and see what other exciting activities you can plan for yourself in this time. You could tell your parents/carers or your friends and they might help you plan activities.

Dealing with emotions

If you feel that you might be using the i-pad as a way of escaping from problems, or things which upset you, then you need to learn some other techniques for dealing with these feelings.

Here are some suggestions, but you might come up with your own ideas.

  • Meditation
  • Talking to a person you feel you can trust
  • Writing about it in a private diary
  • Being in nature

Take a look at the section on meditation and on stress for more detailed ideas.

Don’t get sucked into what everyone else is doing (if all your friends are using i-pads a lot)

think for yourself!

Look after yourself!

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All SMART Coaching (Stress Management And Relaxation Techniques) are designed to provide excellent and relevant quality well-being and mindfulness training, mindfulness training in schools or with young minds and intuition, insight mindfulness training across all sectors.