Study compares kids' addiction to cell phones to gambling

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Are your kids addicted to their cell phone? The addiction can be as bad as an addition to gambling or pornography, according to a team of South Korean doctors.

Ken Litt says his 4-year-old twins Samuel and Frederick know how to use a cell phone nearly as well as a playground.

Litt said, “They can do anything on an iPad or cell phone except make a call and code.”

Cell phones have become a necessity for parents and kids to stay in touch. We spotted parents glued to their cell phones at the park. What is the right age to give a child a smartphone?

Litt said he has no idea.

“Child age 8 or 9 can have a phone,” suggests psychologist Dr. Eddie Regnier. He said the privilege should come with rules parents must stick to.

 “At the same time take it away from them….not have 24 hours a day. When they come home put it away interact with them face to face. They need to learn social skills necessary. At dinner table put the phone away,” said Regnier. He adds, “It’s a fight you have to win…you have to win.”

  Otherwise, Regnier says kids risk becoming addicted. “Some kids have been on social media so much they look autistic, impaired socially don’t make eye contact.”

Litt says when the day comes for his twin to get a smartphone he will keep an eye on their phones. “It’s all about monitoring what they are doing.”

Regnier added, “We can never abdicate our roles as parents. We have to communicate with our child, know what experiences they’re having, what they’re seeing, who they’re talking to…monitor these things. There’s no shortcut to being a good parent it requires work.”

Shannon Clymer says her 18-month-old daughter Gabrielle already likes to push the buttons.

Clymer says she’s worried. “There's a lot of predators in the world that lure children.”

She doesn’t know when her daughter will get a phone … but this much she does know. To keep her away as long as possible.”

Regnier suggests having a basket at home where kids put their phones after school. At night, he says he would go through his kids' phones and social media accounts.          

He says if your child is seriously addicted to the phone, you should see a professional. The addiction is the same as gambling. It takes time to change the behavior.

Maybe you've decided to go ahead and get that phone as a Christmas present for your kid, there are apps to help you monitor what your kids are doing such as the Gallery Guardian App.

You download the app, the app is downloaded on your kid's phone and it scans the kid's photo gallery for inappropriate photos.
         

 

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