How to Treat Addiction to New Technologies in Adolescents
How many activities or facets of our lives involve technology and how many don’t? If we take a look at the answer, it may even cause us to shudder. Even when we’re outdoors enjoying a natural green landscape, we usually take a picture to share on social media. This is how technology permeates our lives left and right. And, although it offers multiple benefits, its misuse entails certain risks, especially at an early age. Let’s see how to deal with cases of addiction to new technologies in adolescents.
Addiction to new technologies in adolescents
Currently, dependence on technology is recognized as part of behavioral addictions. That is, those that refer to behaviors and aren’t related to substance use.
What marks the onset of addiction is that the object (technology) becomes the center of everything. Consequently, in adolescents, problems in academic performance and interpersonal difficulties arise, as well as annoyance, and irritability when they’re told that they spend too much time with their devices.
This is how technology addiction, which begins as a pleasurable activity, causes a deterioration in the person’s life. New health terms have even been coined, such as nomophobia, which is mobile dependence.
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Signs to identify addiction to new technologies in adolescents
To begin with, it’s important to differentiate the excessive use of new technologies from addiction.
Adolescents may choose to be in front of a screen all the time, but if they have the opportunity to enjoy another activity of their liking, they may opt for the latter and leave the former aside. On the other hand, those who experience an addiction to technology feel intense discomfort when not being able to use their devices.
Although both situations require taking control of the matter, it’s important not to confuse the two. Let’s look at some of the signs that suggest addiction to new technologies in teens:
- Emotional changes: Not being able to use technology causes them discomfort, anxiety, anguish, aggressiveness, and nervousness.
- Loss of interest in other activities: They only want to stay in front of the screen.
- Deterioration in family relationships and with their friends: The isolation they subject themselves to in order to use their devices constantly affects contact with other people.
- Denial of conflict: The young person gets annoyed when attention is drawn to inappropriate or excessive use of technology.
- Poor school performance: The use of technology takes up time that should be devoted to studying.
- Sleep disorders: Adolescents stay up late at night active on their devices. Or they find it difficult to fall asleep due to the anxiety and nervousness that this dependence produces.
Keys to dealing with addiction to new technologies in adolescents
As a starting point, it’s important to know that the work must involve the whole environment of the adolescent, be it the family, teachers, and the authorities of the school they attend.
Some of the recommendations to take into account regarding the addiction to new technologies in adolescents are the following:
- At school, families should be made aware of the proper use of mobile devices.
- Establish clear rules regarding the use of technology in all areas, both at school and at home.
- Inform minors about technologies and proper limits regarding screen use in order to guide them and serve as a filter for certain messages. Depending on the age, some parental controls on applications can also be established.
- Talk to children about the risks of using the Internet and social media. It’s important to educate them and make them aware of privacy issues and cyberbullying, among other topics.
- Establish notification blocks or set up a warning on the phone about the time they spend using social media.
- Suggest other activities, such as playing sports or going on recreational outings.
- Don’t prohibit the use of technologies. On the contrary, it’s best to promote responsible and conscientious consumption. It’s important to accompany young people to reflect on the negative impact that the inappropriate use of technology can have in all areas of their lives.
- Ask for professional help if necessary. It’s very important to know that addiction is characterized by dependence and loss of control. Therefore, if we observe such behaviors, it’s best to make an initial consultation with a specialist for guidance and to help us assess the seriousness of the issue.
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Take a look at your own use of technology
Finally, when we think about technology addiction in adolescents, we also need to be able to review and reflect on our own behavior. For example, if we’re connected to our cell phones all day long or if we frequently take work calls at family gatherings, we convey the message that technology can take center stage in our lives.
Sometimes, our children ask us questions or tell us something and there’s a time of silence before we answer them because we’re engrossed in what’s happening on the screen. In this regard, good practices must start at home, and only then can we teach good values to our young people.
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- de Miguel, Natalia, & Soto, Antonio, & Pérez Díaz, Vicente (2018). Abordaje de adicciones a nuevas tecnologías: una propuesta de prevención en contexto escolar y tratamiento de rehabilitación. Papeles del Psicólogo, 39(2),120-126.[fecha de Consulta 15 de Julio de 2022]. ISSN: 0214-7823. Disponible en: https://www.redalyc.org/articulo.oa?id=77855949007
- Echeburúa, Enrique, & de Corral, Paz (2010). Adicción a las nuevas tecnologías y a las redes sociales en jóvenes: un nuevo reto. Adicciones, 22(2),91-95.[fecha de Consulta 15 de Julio de 2022]. ISSN: 0214-4840. Disponible en: https://www.redalyc.org/articulo.oa?id=289122889001