We recently raised the issue of iPads, gaming and social media as our children (and we) are becoming more transfixed, spending increasing “T.O.D.” (aka, Time On Devices) (See: Kids & Their Devices).

Much of what we are concerned about is based on anecdotal evidence, you know, the things we see in day-to-day life. We collect images that are concerning on some level, like when we see kids glued to iPads in restaurants or at the dinner table.

Beyond the anecdotal what does some of the actual evidence tell us?

A research poll conducted with 1200 teens and parents by Common Sense Media found teens spending an average of 9 hours a day on devices, while “tweens” are clocking in around 6 hours.

So multiplying daily usage over 365 days in the year, teens are spending over 3,000 hours a year on average, with tweens over 2,000. The overexposure to social media can have damaging effects on young people who see idealized concepts of how they believe others are living and this can in turn contribute to a growing depression in this digital generation who are hanging onto feelings of inadequacy. Something like Honey Lake teen depression treatment may be sought in order to get young people back on the road to mental wellness using a Bible-based approach.

Other findings from the study

  • 50% of those polled said they feel addicted to their devices.
  • Distraction: 77% of parents feel their child gets distracted by his or her devices and doesn’t pay attention when they are together.
  • Conflict: One-third of parents and teens (36% and 32% respectively) say they argue with each other on a daily basis about device use. (Anecdotally, I believe this percentage to be higher.)
  • Risky behavior: 56% of parents admit to checking their mobile devices while driving and 51% of teens see their parents checking/using their mobile devices when driving.
  • Compulsion: 72% of teens and 48% of parents feel a need to immediately respond to texts, social networking messages and other notifications from their mobile devices.

Back to the anecdotal, an interview I conducted with my dear friend and colleague Fran Sherman, LCSW, who specializes in teen depression said some of the following about what she has seen in her practice:

  • “Kids know about sites that we have no clue about.”
  • “Regardless of parent limit setting, kids find ways around it.”
  • “Girls meeting older guys on the internet and sending pictures – it happens all the time and they think it’s ok.”
  • “Many kids have no fear about taking pictures (of a sexual nature) and sending.”
  • “At risk kids (e.g., kids diagnosed bipolar, ADHD, autism spectrum ) are at particular risk because of poor assessment of consequence and attention seeking.”

Had enough yet?

Obviously, as we go about our day checking our phones (another study showed we check an average of 46 times a day) and another study found 81% of us looking at phones in restaurants, we have to check our A.H.I. (i.e., the Adult Hypocrisy Index), as kids will quickly call you on it.

So, before you try and modify your child’s behavior, you may need to be doing a little self-modification.

Next step after checking your A.H.I. is to spend at least a chunk of the weekend in areas where there are no links to technology (i.e, the outdoors). In other words, take your kids on a hike or something and leave the phone in the car (shocking a proposition as that may be). While being indoors, engage them with activities like Dark Souls board Game or Marvel Champions Card Game. Additionally, these games help your kids stay engaged and stay away from phones. Thus, making them perfect gifts for 15 year old boys.

Even something as simple as playing going to a restaurant without iPads. (Kids coloring with crayons at the table is still old school enough to be acceptable.)

With both such scenarios you will probably go through a period of detox with the kids.

It’s worth it though.

Just remember, Steve Jobs, with the no iPad policy that he had in his house, was on your side.