Digital Disruption is the Technology Wellness Center’s answer to parents who feel that their children’s ADHD or anxiety symptoms are out of control. We apply this to children who are on medications to treat their disorders or for those who simply have a mild form of the disorders. We have found that a Digital Disruption can either decrease some of the symptoms of ADHD and anxiety or can altogether eliminate the symptoms, depending on the severity of the disorder in the particular child.
Digital Disruption is the practice of removing all hand-held digital devices and videogame playing on televisions while the child is in the home or at the very least outside of school. The process involves removing these devices for 30 days. We know that 30 days seems extreme and unbearable, but the results in some of the children are worth the pain and agony of the first few days. Below is the step-by-step guide to Digital Disruption.
- Monitor for one week your child’s ADHD or anxiety symptoms. Document the symptoms that are the worst or the most disruptive to your home. This could be a tantrum, bouts of crying, fear responses, irritability, etc.
- Remove all digital devices from your child for 30 days. This primarily includes hand-held devices (iPads, cellphones, Kindles) and videogames on the television.
- After the 30 days monitor the same symptoms that you monitored prior to beginning the Digital Disruption.
- If you observe a decrease in symptoms then you know that your child is affected by digital technology. You have a choice to slowly reintroduce digital devices to your child in small increments or small amounts of time or you can simply continue the Digital Disruption.
- If you are going to reintroduce, we recommend starting with videogames on the television for 20 minutes. Do this for at least one week and monitor the symptoms. If the symptoms return then return to Digital Disruption. If the symptoms do not return then you know your child can handle this amount of technology without significant impact on their brain.
- The goal is to reach an amount of time that does not increase the symptoms in your child and permits them to have fun on their digital devices.
These steps should be altered according to your family’s situation. For example, if your child is in the middle of a Digital Disruption (day 15) and relatives come to visit, you could permit your child to play videogames on the television with the relatives as long as there are ground rules before the relatives arrive. After the relatives leave then return to the Digital Disruption, although you might want to extend it for the same number of days. While this type of exception is permissible, we would not get into the habit of finding exceptions on a weekly basis.
This certainly works better on younger children rather than older children but Digital Disruption can be successfully implemented with either age group. Remember the first week will be extremely painful; however, the potential benefit of Digital Disruption will be worth the agony.