Is your teen clinically addicted to screen time?

Tech Talk Tuesday #50: Is your teen clinically addicted to screen time?

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Many people use the word “addiction” casually to describe something they do often and somewhat compulsively. We hear people say things like, “I’m addicted to chocolate or I’m addicted to my cell phone.”  Clinical addiction is a different matter. A clinical diagnosis is defined by:  

  • Negative consequences: problems with relationships, work, school, and more
  • Tolerance: wanting to engage with the substance more and more to get the same affect
  • Withdrawal: feelings of anxiousness, physical symptoms and more when away from it
  • Unable to stop: serious difficulties with trying to cut down or stop

The American Association of Psychiatry (APA) is considering adding Internet Gaming Disorder as an official diagnosis. This is based on studies that show psychological and physiological patterns similar to those exhibited by a person with a drug addiction. For example, MRI studies of the brains of people who play twenty hours or more of video games a week show similar imaging patterns as people addicted to drugs. Internet use that is not gaming related, but rather related to social media and other things, is also a problem for many people but it is less understood from a psychological and physiological perspective. 

If you are concerned about addiction in yourself or someone else, or you want to teach your kids about this issue, take a look at these two questionnaires that screen for problematic use.

For Tech Talk Tuesday this week let's talk about the difference between addiction and compulsion:

  • Do you feel like your screen time creates negative consequences in any part of your life?
  • Do you ever feel anxious when you can't get access to your screen?
  • Should the risk of real screen time addiction be taught in schools?