Is your teen a screen addict?

August 31, 2016

The irony of blogging about this subject is not lost on us. We sit here, somewhat addicted to screen time ourselves, and begin to write about why we should really be ‘de-teching’. And yet that appears to be the conundrum of the modern world.

So how much is too much when it comes to technology use in the home? That’s about as easy to answer as how long is a piece of string? The reality is that appropriate use of screen time will depend on the person engaging in it and what they are doing while they’re on line.

It would be reasonable to say that if your child is using the internet for learning purposes i.e. study, homework etc. (yeah right…) then you might consider giving them the freedom and time to explore at will. If however, they are busy building Minecraft super cities, liking all of their 5000 friends on Instagram, Snap chatting the day away as a virtual unicorn, or continuing to obsess over their favorite YouTuber then you may have a problem.

And it’s not just what they’re watching, but when they are watching. If you’re living in a typical teen home then you have no doubt witnessed the ‘bright light of the abyss’, glowing determinedly through even the thickest of duvets.  Yes, offspring, we can see you!  And don’t you know that looking at a screen right before bedtime interferes with your circadian rhythm aka your ability to get a good nights sleep.  FYI parents – your teen’s potential to wake up in a bad mood post disrupted sleep will be your fault and has nothing to do with staring bug-eyed into the black hole of the internet through the wee hours.

So what’s the answer, do you go cold turkey and “cut the wi-fi cord”, only to find your teen in a puddle on the floor suffering from chronic withdrawl…or alternatively hooking into your hot spot and stealing your data (yes beware!).  Or do you go for the slow detox, creating some agreed boundaries around when, where, how often and for how long your child can indulge in screen time.

Even better, it always helps to engage your teen in the what, why and how of any conversation around screen time. That is, some cold, hard facts around what it can do both physically and socially when tech use becomes a full blown addiction.

There are some amazing resources around that deal directly with this issue. If you or your child has been fortunate enough to see the movie Screenagers through their school or a community group then you are very lucky! If not, you can take a peek at the trailer here. It’s also a fabulous resource website.

There is another great article that we came across recently in the New York Post, written by Dr Nicholas Kardaras, entitled It’s ‘digital heroin’: How screens turn kids into psychotic junkies. Okay so maybe that’s a distributing title but the author raises some interesting points around the pitfalls of tech addiction. For the full article, click on this link.