Poisoned gift

A video I saw recently made it clear for me: the usage of smartphone, tablets and other forms of computers creates an addiction due to the release of dopamine, in the same way drugs like alcohol and nicotine do. Every time we use our phone to engage in social networks, or play a game on our tablet or watch a video (as TV used to do) we get the reward that keeps us addicted. The virtual-social interactions of the “social” networks intensify this addiction.

Then I thought: “What have we done as parents when we gave an iPad to our young daughters ?”. We blindly and willfully gave them an addictive device. The addiction quickly created issues in the management of time and activities of our daughters by themselves and with us. Our youngest daughter had such a hard time dealing with this addiction that she recognized it was very difficult for her to get off her tablet! She agreed that she enjoys off-tablet activities and exercice but felt the pain whenever she had to get off her addictive device to do something else.

We found her reaction mature for a 8 years old and decided to partner with her to help her manage the issue. It feels like helping someone off his addiction because it is one. The video also talk about the deficit in real life interaction that this addiction induces. The result is that young people who have always lived with these addictive devices are not used to build relationship like friendship that take time to grow, or to work in the long term to get reward. They’re used to the instant rewards their brain feels whenever they get a like, a retweet, a point in the virtual world. Even games like Minecraft that I find interesting in term of creativity, give the users the sense that everything is easy to build in the virtual world, why make efforts in the physical world?

In summary, these devices should remain tools, enablers and be kept away as much as possible to allow our children to enjoy childhood in the real physical and emotional worlds, to let us be truly present for them, sharing loving moments while they still have not left the nest.