Technology has made huge leaps and bounds, especially in terms of cellphones, computers and tablets. I grew up having a cell phone with a pull-out keyboard and I thought I was so cool because everyone else around me had an old-style flip phone; it’s really interesting to see how far cell phones have advanced in recent years and how they keep changing even today.
Like anything else, technology must be used in moderation—especially with children. Science Daily writes that one study hints that toddlers that were read to via electronic books actually wound up paying more attention to the story and asking the teacher or their parents more questions after the story was over.
On the flip side, IFL Science points out that excessive smartphone use, especially before bed, can mess with a child’s circadian rhythm because they accidentally wind up staying up later past their bedtime because they are absorbed in chatting with their friends online or surfing the Internet.
A child watching movies or television shows on a smartphone or other kind of device before bedtime could also lead to less sleep since their brain starts producing a ton of adrenaline and that makes it harder for their body to relax enough to get some shut-eye.
There is plenty of debate on what the appropriate age to introduce a child to technology like smartphones and tablets and tons of pros and cons.
For parents that gave their child access to a smartphone from a very young age and are concerned that their little one is getting too wrapped up, here’s a list of the warning signs to be on the lookout for.
20 They Don't Want To Go Outside And Play
The Guardian writes that one survey shows that children in this day and age do not spend as much time playing outside as the previous generations did due to the rise of technology; including items such as smartphones and tablets.
If parents are curious if they may have goofed by giving their son or daughter access to a smartphone too early in their life, one telltale sign is that their child doesn’t want to go outside and play with his or her friends at the neighborhood park, local schoolyard or even at the nearby baseball field because they are glued to a screen.
19 They Are Bored By Regular Books
Science Daily notes that one study shows that toddlers that were allowed to read electronic books had some benefits because they paid more attention to the story and asked questions at the end of story time about the tale they just heard.
Of course, since staring at a screen for too long is a good way to develop eyestrain, parents should also introduce their child to print books as well. If a child would rather sit and read an electronic book on a tablet or a smartphone and they turn up their nose at a “regular book,” then that’s a red flag that they got too dependent on technology too early in their lives.
18 You Notice They Spend Eight Hours A Day On Their Devices
The Daily Beast points out that it is time to have a serious discussion with your child if you notice that they are on their phone for close to eight hours a day and checking their smartphone consumes most of their daily life.
One researcher discovered that the average child spends about four or five hours a day on their phone. This isn’t good, but if you notice your child consistently goes over that limit, then that could be due to the fact they were given a device too early and they were never shown alternate ways of entertaining themselves.
17 They Are Constantly Responding To Messages At Family Gatherings
Newport Academy warns parents that if their child keeps their faces glued to a screen during family gatherings like the holidays and immediately start responding to messages instead of catching up with relatives, then you made a big mistake by giving them a device at the age that you did.
Sure, nowadays everyone glances at their phone once in a while during family gatherings and if there’s a lull when everyone disperses to do their own thing for a bit during the get-together it’s common to see people checking their social media apps. But it’s not a good sign if your child is constantly checking messages and ignoring the relatives around them throughout the entire event.
16 Your Child Keeps Asking For A Higher Data Plan
Newport Academy writes that another red flag is if your child keeps irritating you due to the fact that they keep asking if you can upgrade the data plan since they keep running out because they are on their smartphone or other device all day, every day.
You would think that most children wouldn’t grasp the complexity of data plans, but the children that are glued to technology know the ins and outs of such things because their entire social life pretty much revolves around chatting with their friends on social media apps or on various forms of messengers online.
15 Your Child Is On Their Phone Before Bedtime
IFL Science notes that having a child—especially if they are a teenager or about to hit those teenaged years—that is constantly using their smartphone before going to bed is at risk of getting poor quality sleep.
Not only will cellphone use before bed disrupt normal sleep patterns, but it can also lead to a delayed onset of REM sleep (which is the most important and most restive part of the human sleep cycle) and shorter sleep overall, since they often get sucked into staying up way later than they should, which can negatively affect their grades at school.
14 No One Watches Television Anymore
When I was growing up, it was fairly common for my younger sister and I to bicker over whose turn it was to watch their favorite television show. I commandeered the television set when shows such as Roswell and Dark Angel were on where as my sister would have kept the television on the Disney Channel all day, every day if she could have at that age.
BBC notes that thanks to technology, children are no longer watching media on actual television sets anymore because they’re either watching a film or their favorite television show to a laptop, tablet or smartphone
13 Rejecting Substitute Activities
When I was a child, I used to love going to Toys R Us and picking out a huge animal-related puzzle to put together. My dad would always make time for us to sit down together in the dining room on Saturday nights so that we could slowly but surely complete the puzzle. Even now that I am an adult, our puzzle time remains one of my fondest memories of my childhood.
Business Insider writes that parents should be concerned if they notice that their child is constantly playing puzzle apps on their smartphone but reject real-life substitutes such as puzzles because it’s “not electronic” and “not fun.”
12 They're Glued To Devices When Walking Outside
One of my earliest childhood memories is of my mother and father sternly instructing me on how to cross busy streets by looking both ways and making sure that the crosswalk light is the appropriate color.
Newport Academy adds that in this day and age while parents might try their best to teach good pedestrian etiquette and safety measures to their children, there are still plenty of kids out there (of all ages, but it seems prevalent in many teenagers, at least in my neck of the woods) that are so glued to their smartphone that they don’t even look up when crossing the street or navigating the sidewalk.
11 You Notice They Check Their Phones Every Hour
Newport Academy points out that children that were given a smartphone or other device too early in life can often develop a compulsion to keep checking said aforementioned device constantly because their brains release chemicals that boost mood whenever they check their phones and see that their social media posts were commented on, which leads them to repeat said behavior.
If you notice that your child can’t go more than an hour without checking his or her smartphone several times, that’s a giant red flag that they really need to cut back on how much time they spend using technology.
10 Friends Don't Come Over As Much Anymore Since They're Chatting On Social Media
Sure, when I was growing up I spent a good chunk of time chatting on the phone with my friends and gossiping with them about whatever the latest juicy morsel was at the time, but I also spent plenty of time hanging out with them in person too.
This Is Insider writes that another warning sign that parents should be aware of is if they notice that their children keep talking to you about their friends, yet they rarely if ever ask if they can hang out with said group of pals because they prefer to chat with them via their smartphone or tablet.
9 Bragging About How Many Times Their Social Media Post Has Been Commented On
In our modern society, it seems as if you can’t have a successful business without having some sort of presence on all of the various social media websites. In order to make my dog walking business grow, half of my time is spent uploading pictures to various apps and websites or posting in online neighborhood groups as a way to promote myself.
Newport Academy writes that if your child starts bragging to their family, friends and neighbors about how popular they are on all of the different social media websites or how many people have commented on photos they uploaded to different apps and they take it seriously, that’s a sign they got a smartphone way too early in life.
8 Their Devices Are Filled With The Latest Social Media And Communication Apps
It seems as if there’s an app for pretty much everything nowadays. From hiring a dog walker to tracking someone’s menstrual cycle, if you need help keeping track of things or if you need to find a professional, you can just use an app on your smartphone or tablet.
CNBC points out that having too many apps downloaded to a smartphone can be a sign that your child is way too absorbed in their device. It’s one thing to have the apps for the social media websites you frequent the most and a few games, but some kids can go overboard with it and that’s another red flag you need to keep an eye out for.
7 Headphones Are In Their Ears All Day, Every Day
The New York Times warns parents that they need to be really careful and have a heart-to-heart with their child if they have their headphones on all the time.
It doesn’t matter if they are constantly listening to music on their smartphone or using the headphones to play a game, it’s really not healthy due to the fact that it can affect their hearing. There are some brands out there that are labeled as being safe for children, but all that goes out the window if they are constantly being used by the child in question and there’s no guarantee that they’ll even keep the music at safe levels.
6 Fretting Over Where To Charge Their Devices On Vacation
Once children hit a certain age, family vacations go from being fun to being boring as all get out. I know by the time I hit the age of 13, I would have much rather spent my time hanging out with my friends at the local community pool club than go on a long weekend vacation with my parents and little sister.
The Daily Beast points out that it is common for older children to want more independence from their family, but it’s not a good sign if all they do on the family summer vacation is fretting over where they will be able to charge their devices on the trip.
5 Wanting To Go To A Hotel That Has WiFi On Family Vacations
The Daily Beast points out that another red flag that your child is way too absorbed in their smartphone and assortment of other devices is if they only want to stay in a hotel on a vacation if they have WiFi so that they can still keep in touch with their friends.
Most hotels nowadays have some form of WiFi, but in some cases the guests have to pay for it and you need to take this seriously if your child starts sulking or pitching a major fit because you won’t allow them to purchase extra WiFi during the trip.
4 Being Glued To Video Games On The Weekends
The stereotypical image of the nerdy gamer that spends all of his or her time playing video games has been around for years. I remember back in high school watching movies or television shows that had a character based on this particular trope, so it’s definitely not a new concern for parents.
That being said, The Guardian notes that video games have evolved with the Internet and you need to get your child to cut back if you notice that they are glued to video games with no break on the weekends. Sure, they’re relaxing and can be a fun way to stay busy, but being too wrapped up in a virtual-reality world isn’t healthy for anyone.
3 Feeling Cranky If They Can't Respond To Messages ASAP
According to Newport Academy, another sign that parents might have to intervene with their child and their smartphone is if they notice that their little one starts getting cranky or antsy if they cannot respond to their messages as soon as possible.
I’ve become conditioned to respond quickly to text messages from my dog walking and dog training clients, but that’s only because it’s my job to do so and I don’t want to risk losing a client because I responded hours later. Children don’t have that worried (and shouldn’t have them), so if they’re responding like that, it’s a sign that they have way too much screen time.
2 Using Devices To Communicate With Others In The Same Room
I grew up in a very New York family that communicated not by going upstairs and knocking gently on the door to talk to one another, but by raising our voices as loud as we could and practically bellowing at the top of our lungs in order to communicate. Heck, we still talk at top volume at family get-togethers, a fact that always makes my boyfriend laugh hysterically whenever he sees my relatives and I start chatting.
The Boston Globe writes that both ways of parent-child communication have lowered due to the ease and convenience of text messaging, but you need to be wary if your child stops pretty much all forms of communication and just texts you on their phone.
1 Spends Too Much Money On Accessories And Apps
I won’t lie, I spent a good deal of money on buying the latest Barbie doll or Barbie accessory when I was a child. As I got a bit older and moved on from dolls, I swapped my Barbies for book series and I spent a fortune on novels such as The Baby-Sitter’s Club or Animorphs.
The Guardian writes that thanks to technological advancements with smartphones and devices in recent years, it’s not surprising to see parents spending a bit of because their child just had to have the latest video game or cool app for their smartphone. But when it becomes excessive and your wallet starts weeping, then it is time to step in because that’s another giant red flag that something isn’t right.