Teens and Their Screens: The Addiction is Real

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Most people in the developed world have some sort of device — smartphones, tablets, computers, TVs, and other technologies run rampant in daily lives. But is society, especially teenagers, actually addicted to technology?

Second Nature Utah reviews that it is a commonly debated subject within the scientific community. And there’s a pretty even split about whether screen addiction (sometimes known as tech addiction) is actually real.

Opposing Opinions on Screen Addiction

Interestingly, technology addiction didn’t appear in the latest Diagnostic Statistical Manual, a journal that shapes therapists’ understanding of patients and outlines conditions covered by insurers.

However, gaming disorder was referenced as a condition due to addictive behaviors by the World Health Organization. And Dr. Nicholas Kardaras authored Glow Kids: How Screen Addiction is Highjacking Our Kids in 2016.

Dr. Kardaras mentioned that he’d treated countless teens who were so involved with video games that they fail to go to the bathroom. He also notes that brain-imaging studies of screen time impacts display similar patterns to those with other addictions, concluding that technology addiction could be a genuine condition, especially among the world’s youth.

Teens’ Problematic Usage of Screens

An Iowa State University researcher, Dr. Douglas Gentile, noted that addiction (characterized as dysfunction in various aspects of life, so much so that it achieves clinical significance) to technological use does seem to exist.

However, scientists are still unsure whether media genuinely creates physical dependencies and alters the brain.

Furthermore, some clinicians have postulated that screen overuse should be considered a symptom of another condition, like depression, ADHD, or anxiety.

More recent studies, particularly Development and Validation of The Problematic Media Use Measure: A Parent Report of Screen Media ‘Addiction’ in Children, have decided that whether a teenager has a problem with technology can’t be measured purely on screen time. Instead, it must look at the individual’s relationship to it and its effects on the rest of their life.

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Treatment for Screen Addiction in Teenagers

Tech addiction isn’t officially recognized in the USA. However, some in-patient treatment establishments for teens try to address the concern.

Teenagers who’ve spent time in wilderness treatment programs have noted that their focus and demeanor changed, alongside finding better ways to confront their problems, and enhancing social skills.

Although, the term “addict” doesn’t sit well with many mental health practitioners. They believe problematic technology usage in teenagers should be considered a habit, prompting change, rather than an addiction, which could damage their identity-forming process.

How Adults Can Prevent Teens from Falling Into the Tech Trap

Adults should look at ways to stop teens from getting to the screen “addiction” phase. Of course, this is easier said than done, but there are a few valuable suggestions.

Encouraging creativity is a massive step in the right direction. Whether it’s cooking, crafts, business, reading, painting, writing, or drawing, it will work wonders to limit tech time.

Spending time outside without devices is also essential for helping modern-day teenagers avoid the nagging pull of video games and social media.

Ultimately, implementing stricter technology rules in the home will give teens a fighting chance at avoiding problematic screen usage.

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