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Teenagers are very technologically advanced. They have smartphones, laptops, iPads, smartTV’s and a slew of other devices that connects them to the internet world. Addiction to technology is a possibility in many households.
The definition of addiction according to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary is “a compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance.” The question then becomes whether technology is a habit-forming substance.
Steve Woda of uKnowKids.com reports, “Kids can get a natural high when logging onto Instagram, playing the latest video game, or instant-messaging with their friends. There can be almost a compulsive need to get the digital boost. This need is not going unnoticed by professionals. Just last year, the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders 5 (DSM-5) took note of the impact and listed digital addiction as a ‘condition for further study.’”
What should be done to protect kids from digital addiction? Here are some tips:
Set Limits: Kids need boundaries especially teenagers. Limit the use of technology to a specific hourly limit during the week and on weekends. The limits may be different for each household. Kids and teens can benefit from the knowledge of knowing when it is appropriate to be plugged in and how to unplug.
Teach Proper Technology Etiquette: Limiting computer, tablet and phone time is important, but teaching proper technology etiquette goes hand in hand. Teach teenagers that when company comes to visit, it’s time to unplug. There is no substitute for real human interaction. When eating at a restaurant teach kids that it is important to shut off the phone and pay attention to your dinner companions.
Try a Board Game Night: Set up a night in the household for a family board game. Make sure there are no cellphones, iPads, tablets, or other electronics brought to the game. Everything should be put away and turned off.
Adapt Online Activities to Offline Activities: Are your teenagers into role playing games like World of Warcraft, Guild Wars or Pathfinder? If so, get them to unplug by taking them to a live action role playing event in your area. LARP genres include fantasy, medieval, post-apocalyptic, sci-fi and more. Not only will this help teens unplug but it will give them a chance to meet new and interesting people.
Keep Teen Technology Monitored: Teens are susceptible to all kinds of influences especially on the internet where adult oriented websites thrive. Don’t be afraid to monitor any of their devices to learn who they talk to on the web, where they hang out most, and to keep informed of what they are doing.