Many parents grew up in an era where you played outside until the street lights came on. Solitaire and Minesweeper were the only games on your computer and Blockbuster was thriving. Nowadays, technology has replaced reality for children. Teens’ faces are glued to their cell phones, tablets, laptops , and gaming systems 24/7. This obsession many teens have with their electronic devices is called technology addiction and it can lead to negative consequences. Over 50% of teens feel addicted to their smartphones so it’s important to address this problem and seek help for children .
What Is Technology Addiction?
Not all technology is bad, and when used in moderation, the internet has the power to keep us connected to relatives in different states, aware of issues on different continents, and provides us a wealth of knowledge right at our fingertips. But tech addiction, also known as internet addiction, is an overreliance on technology.
Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation defines it as, “frequent and obsessive technology-related behavior increasingly practiced despite negative consequences to the user of the technology.” It is the compulsive use of smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles, and other tech related devices. There are some surprising similarities when looking at brain scans of those addicted to technology and those addicted to other substances. Studies show that people addicted to alcohol, cocaine, heroine, etc. have abnormal white matter on brain scans. This abnormal white matter also appears on brains of people addicted to technology.
Addicted teens can feel anxious, depressed, and isolated when away from technology. Teens who feel enslaved to their tech devices spend more time with their head down than having true, social interactions.
What Does Tech Addiction Look Like
When our adolescents post photos on Instagram and base their self-worth on the amount of likes they get; or escape from the pressures of reality in a video game from the moment they get out of school until 3 in the morning, they are headed down the road of tech addiction. Signs of technology addiction are:
- Anxiety and/or extreme irritability when away from their tech devices
- Grades in school are dropping
- Constant exhaustion due to lack of sleep
- They have never met majority of their friends in-person
- Poor diet and missing meals because they are online
- Technology is becoming more important than time with friends and family in real life
- Compulsively checking texts and social media
- Lying about how much time they spend online
- Losing track of time spent online
Teens can also experience insomnia and tension headaches when they are addicted to their tech devices.
When our young adults spend more time in a virtual world than reality, they put themselves at great risk. Some of these risks are minor like getting a virus on your computer. But some can have major repercussions.
- Cyber Bullying: Around half of teens have experienced online bullying. Online bullying can be mean texts or emails, posting hurtful messages on social networks, spreading rumors online, sending sexual messages meant to hurt someone, and more.
- Cyber Predators: When adolescents spend more time online than real life, they open the door for predators to take advantage of them. This can lead to unhealthy relationships virtually. Cyber predators can also lure teens into meeting them in person for sexual favors.
- Posting Sensitive Information: Teens and young adults are still learning boundaries so they may post private information on a social media site or send sensitive photos in a text or email. These posts or images can be used against them through cyberbullying or haunt them in their professional lives. Sexting can also cause legal problems for your teen even if it’s consensual.
These online dangers can happen to anybody and it’s important we address these dangers with all of our children. But when our teen spends copious amounts of time on the internet these risks are heightened. This may leave parents wondering, given that technology is a part of most work and social environments, how will my teen be able to manage safe and sustainable use of technology?
How Equinox Counseling & Wellness Center Helps
Tech addiction in teens is typically coupled with depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and/or other serious issues when left untreated. If your child becomes defiant, oppositional, and angry when their technology is taken away, it might be time to seek help.
Equinox Counseling & Wellness Center provides several approaches to helping teens addicted to technology. We provide a healing atmosphere for teens to open up and understand their relationship with technology as well as learn the tools to live a healthy and fulfilled life in reality. Our holistic approach tackles their addiction and struggling mental health. Equinox Counseling gives teens and young adults the confidence to apply these techniques to their everyday lives.
If your child is showing signs of tech addiction, contact our compassionate and knowledgeable team of professionals. With structure, support, and education we can bring normality back to your young adult’s life. We work with you and your teen because your child deserves a better future.