Kids' Safety

The Walking Dead: Is the smartphone turning your kid into a zombie?


Authored by a Symantec employee

 

The zombie apocalypse may seem like a science fiction fantasy but our growing addiction to smartphones means that we’re in danger of being overrun by smartphone zombies.

Walk down any busy street and you’ll see glassy-eyed people with a phone in their hand. It’s nice to be able to nip into your social media accounts or check your emails on-the-go but are smartphones slowly turning our kids into cyber-zombies? Unnnnh. That’s yes in cyber-zombie speak. If you fear your phone may be taking over your children’s lives, help is at hand!

Are smartphones turning our young into The Walking Distracted?

Walking down the street while using a smartphone is an impressive skill but a recent study suggests that it’s not one we’ve mastered. Our streets are full of hunched shells of human beings, who walk slower, swerve more and are less alert as they stumble through life with their phone in their hand. One Chinese city came up with a novel solution by establishing special pedestrian lanes for people who want to walk and use their phones.

It could even be suggested that kids now let their phones do their thinking, as they Google information instead of trying to think about it. It’s ironic that using something that can access the sum of all human knowledge can actually make us act like zombies—or at the very least, make our kids lazier.

Are humans the new goldfish?

Questions have been raised about whether the abundance of smartphones and digital tech has left people with lower attention spans. But seriously, a recent Canadian study found that the average attention span of humans has drifted from 12 seconds in 2000 to eight seconds in 2013.

On the bright side, we’re better at multitasking and concentrating in short bursts now. So that’s something to be happy about.

How to help your kids avoid being a smartphone zombie

Cancel notifications: A beeping phone will send you reaching for your pocket like a gunslinger from an old western. See if you can limit your child’s access by teaching them to check in at set points during the day rather than reaching for their device every time there’s a beep.

Down time: Teach your kids good habits by encouraging them to avoid using their smartphone after a certain time at night, during family time or while watching their favorite TV show.

Practice phone etiquette: Try and educate your kids to avoid smartphones when sitting down for dinner, chatting with friends or in social situations. If someone is trying to talk, it’s good manners to put the phone down and try good old-fashioned eye contact and conversation. This will also help in later life by helping to develop their social skills.

Leave it all behind: Maybe try and reduce smartphone dependence by leaving the smartphone at home for an hour or two. Soon they will realize that the world won’t end, their friends will still talk to them and they may even enjoy the peace and quiet.

Go old school: It’s a bit dramatic but picking up a basic phone with no internet will force your offspring to disconnect. They may have to think a little harder without Google but at least the battery will last for ages!

Disable sleep mode: Most people keep their phones within touching distance at night and it’s easy to log on just before you nod off. Unfortunately, smartphones emit a “blue light” that our brain interprets as a sign that it’s morning time. You can see how this could end in tears, not to mention sleep deprivation and erratic sleeping patterns. Lead by example and encourage good habits by leaving all devices outside of the bedroom so a good night’s sleep can be had.

It’s a vicious cycle of using a smartphone because you can’t sleep, and being unable to sleep because you’re using your smartphone. Just like the chicken and egg conundrum, we’re left asking which came first: the insomnia or the three hours of thumb-numbing phone use?

Quitting a phone has the potential to be an interesting experiment and it really could help your children sleep better and be a better face-to-face socialiser. It all comes down to moderation. Why not encourage your child to put the phone down and focus on living in the now?

Are they still intent on keeping smartphones nearby? Keep it safe from peril (and the zombie apocalypse)

Our Security products can keep smartphones protected for those times when you’re not around to keep an eye on your kids when they want to stay connected. For busy households consider using Norton Family Premier which comes with essential tools for parents to help encourage safe online exploration for your kids.

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