Digital Addiction Among Adolescents: A Guide for Parents

March 13, 2019
The technological era, the internet and social media have unquestionably brought us a number of advantages. Access to all types of culture and content is easy and instant. However, it's important to be aware of the risks that excessive use of technological devices implies.

In the communication error, amid infinite technological advances, new problems arise related to these innovations. One of the most common problems has to do with adolescents and digital addiction. Today we want to take an in-depth look at this issue.

While addiction to technology isn’t exclusive to teenagers, this age group presents the greatest consequences. 

Digital addiction presents an interesting paradox: Something that is initially so beneficial and useful can actually end up becoming a health issue. This type of addiction can affect one’s family, personal life, and professional life.

What is digital addiction?

For some specialists, digital addiction is one of the most recent addictive disorders of the age of technology and the internet. For others, it’s the uncontrolled use of technology, derived from the consequences of excess.

The World Health Organization states that addictions are a mental illness. Based on these parameters, when it comes to digital addiction, we need to consider psychological criteria. 

When excessive and problematic use of technology occurs, individuals develop dependency and, in some cases, obsession. This is true for the internet, smart phones, video games, etc. This dependency can lead to an addiction that causes problems in every area of life.

Digital addictions refer to interactions between humans and machines that produce symptoms like helplessness, lack of self-control, psychological dependence and other problems that an individual develops. These problems are both internal and external.

Digital addiction among adolescents: symptoms

Many parents ask themselves how to determine whether or not a teen is suffering from digital addiction. The answer may be complicated, given that the use of technology is so common in this day and age.

Just the same, there are some symptoms of digital addiction that may be an indication that the disorder is present.

Loss of self-control

One of the main symptoms of digital addiction is a lack of control regarding the use of technology: including the internet, smart phones, video games, television, etc. As a result, the time a person spends using technology constantly increases.

Digital Addiction Among Adolescents: A Guide for Parents

Clinical consequences

The excessive and abusive use of technology also has clinical consequences. These are easy to identify, as they manifest themselves through an individual’s mood and emotional state.

When they find themselves unable to use technology, addicted individuals become intensely uncomfortable, irritable and upset. They may also present health problems like visual fatigue and issues related to their posture.

The abandonment of activities

Another symptom of this type of pathology appears in the form of the abandonment of habitual activities. This is especially common in teens.

When individuals stop dedicating their time to leisure, social interaction, family activities, academics, studying, etc, this is a clear sign of digital addiction.

“Digital addictions present an interesting paradox. Something that is initially so beneficial and useful can actually end up becoming a health issue. The issue can affect one’s family, personal life, and professional life.”

The prevention of digital addiction in adolescents

There are many ways to approach prevention when it comes to teens and digital addictions. One of the most concrete and effective methods starts in the home.

In this sense, parents have an extremely important role in preventing the misuse of technology among adolescents.

Adults must be responsible in supervising and establishing limits and norms for their children’s use of new technologies. In other words, parents must be present and pay attention to their teenagers’ behavior. This way, they can quickly detect and avoid problems in the future.

Digital Addiction Among Adolescents: A Guide for Parents

While parental involvement is fundamental, we must also practice what we preach. It’s pointless to talk to our teenage children about digital addiction if we ourselves are addicted.

Learning to lead through your own example is the best way to help teens avoid suffering disorders related to technology.

Adolescents and digital addictions are a very complex issue. This modern-day problem opens the door to many opinions, questions and arguments. However, it’s also an issue that brings us to reflect upon the educational function of the family.

The role of the family is fundamental in facing challenges that this new era presents, where technology advances every day. Parents and teachers have the responsibility of accompanying teens in the challenges that have to do with the influences of information and communication technology.

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