Helping Teens to Put the Phone Down

Are you having trouble communicating with your teen because they tend to spend most of their time in their phone, computer or tablet? Technology and video game addiction is becoming commonplace for many teenagers (as well as adults) and while this type of addiction does not have not the same severe consequences as a drug or alcohol addiction, it does have many of the same signatures when it comes to how the brain responds to this behavior. Not to mention it can cause individuals become withdrawn, lost, and sometimes depressed. So why is video game and technology addiction on the rise? Kimberly Young, director of the Center for Internet Addiction Recovery defines technology addiction as a "habitual compulsion to engage in using technology instead of addressing life’s problems." For example, a teen who instinctively pulls out her smart phone whenever her mom begins lecturing her might be addicted to technology because such a reaction is likely a coping mechanism to avoid conflict. Long-term compulsions, even those that are not physically addictive such as Internet use, can lead to psychological problems such as insomnia, irritability and depression.(1) There are many factors as to why your teen will find pleasure in technology and video games. Three examples are explained below:(2) Boredom Boredom is a common reason that any person may become addicted to anything. It’s when people are bored that they want to ingest (either physically, mentally, or emotionally) something into their body to make up for the boredom. Being bored is a natural course of action for any person and how we deal with it changes with each individual. Escaping Reality When your teenager is playing a video game, browsing on Facebook, or texting, their mind is in a virtual world. It’s this distraction that they enjoy so much that it becomes a psychologically addiction. It is the escape that allows them to avoid worrying about school, grades, and becoming an adult. Many businesses have blocked YouTube and Facebook from their office because of its uses impact on productivity. Boredom in adults may cause them to want to watch videos or chat aimlessly to occupy their mind with things other that what is most important right now. Finding Balance Today's world is driven by technology. While that won't come as news to anyone, technology is should not be something to be consumed by. The issue is finding a balance between both the real world and the virtual world that allows teens and adults to utilize technology while maintaining healthy relationships with people who are there in the flesh. Helping your teenager to find their balance is going to be crucial, especially as our world becomes more technologically-driven. Technology is very useful but it can also become a personal detriment if abused. Teens are drawn to technology addiction for several reasons. First, teens tend to have poor coping mechanisms. In the face of stress, they often turn to what’s comforting to them, this includes online videos or social media sites. The increased convenience and widespread availability of technology makes it easy for a teen to whip out a mobile device and switch their focus from the real world to the virtual world. Secondly, teens struggle with the understanding of who they are. Technologies such as online video games and the Internet and the anonymity it brings allows teens to express themselves without putting their ego at risk. If you have a teen who seems consumed by technology and you feel you are unable to communicate with them in a healthy and constructive way, contact us so that we can discuss your family's options for therapy. For more information on our teen counseling, click here. Together, we will explores ways to help your teenager overcome technology addiction and establish stronger, healthier relationships.