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  • Writer's pictureJoe Chan

Trying to get out of the “maze of devices”?

I recently encountered a few parents who were trying to get some help to deal with their child’s behaviors in the usage of the different devices. And across the different families, I see some common trends which I think might be interesting to share some of my perspectives which I hope that more parents will be better equipped to deal with this “problem”.

1st Common Trend: Need for Control

Amongst all the parents that I interacted with, almost all of them struggled with the need to for control over their child’s behaviors in terms of the usage of devices. At the very fundamental level, parents felt helpless when they could no longer exercise absolute control over their “once a upon a time cutie pies”. It’s interesting how parents complained about their child’s behaviors but yet starting at a very young age, they are already allowing their young kids to be on devices independently on their own.

Just like any behavior, setting boundaries and expectations clear must start at an early stage with a child. The moment we allow certain behaviors to turn into a lifestyle, it will be very difficult to expect changes in a short time.

Thus, a useful question to think about is: How do we tackle any changes in lifestyles ourselves whether its devices, diet, social activities and others? Have we successfully overcome one ourselves? What did we do that made it possible? Did we overcome it by exerting “hard” control either on ourselves or by someone else or did we use other strategies?

2nd Common Trend: It’s Not Just About The Devices Anymore

The other common trend that I observed is that the struggle is no more just about the devices but it’s about the communication and relationship between the parent and child. Many of the parents shared that they no longer communicate with their child because they are constantly on their devices these days. Thus, they conclude that their devices “caused” the breakdown in their communications and therefore they have to get rid of their devices in order to restore their communications.

​ But, if we were to take a step back and ponder. Imagine you are in the middle of your favorite activity and then someone comes in and demands that you need to stop that activity to “communicate” with them. How would you feel about that? And if that somebody does it more than one time and each time it ends up in a tense argument, how do you your communication and relationship with this person will be over time?

Instead, what if we separate out the two things and see them as two different issues. On one hand, it is about the use of devices which can be concerning for parents. But on the other hand, it is about taking time and efforts to build on the relationship and communications with the child. In fact, if we are able to see these two concerns as separate, then we don’t need to lump everything together and become frustrated about everything.

3rd Common Trend: They Shouldn’t Be On Devices But They Need to Go Outdoors More

While I’m an avid sportsman and advocate of outdoor activities myself, I often hear parents telling their kids that they need to go outdoors more rather than just playing on their devices all the time. But as they do that, I start to observe that many of these parents aren’t really practicing what they preach for themselves. So, I’m not surprised if their kids aren’t very enthusiastic about the outdoors or any sports.

For parents, while I understand the intent of this advice maybe it would be more effective to share with your child something that you truly are passionate and interested about. It can be about anything that you have been interested in before or currently. Bring them along and expose them to the different hobbies and activities that you have when they are young. It’s never too late as long as it’s an invitation. Make it fun and let them see a different side of you that they have never seen before.

For all parents out there who are facing some sort of challenges in this area, I hope that you can continue to persevere on this parenting journey. I know that it is not easy to get out of whatever “rut” you feel you are in, but let’s start by adjusting our perspectives and do something different today!

Wishing you all the best in your parenting journey ahead and feel free to reach out to me if you need someone to “unstuck” you today!


Coach Joe Chan

About the author:

​Coach Joe Chan offers coaching services for parents and young people who have different concerns at home. He specializes in coaching parents to overcome their communication issues with their children by creating solutions together with them in the shortest time possible. With his training in social work, coaching and therapy, along with 20 years of fieldwork experience with youth and families, he is confident to bring your parenting to the next level.

For more information, check out his website here.


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