Digital addiction in tweens and teens is pervasive
Go anywhere in public, from a mall to a national park, and you’ll see teenagers (and adults) using their phones as if nothing else exists around them. While everyone seems to know that the population as a whole continues to become more reliant and addicted to digital media, parents often don’t do much to stop the behavior in their teens or in themselves.
Why are teens so addicted to media? If you recall being a teenager, sometimes it feels like nothing is happening, nothing will ever happen to you, and you’re not really part of anything. With social media, teens get to always feel like something is happening around them (others sharing), happening to them (sharing what’s happening), and that they are a part of something (likes, shares, etc.)
The problem is that social media never turns off, and even with the following of a few pages, the news feed or the uploads will keep on and on in endless strings of happenings. Take away a teenager’s cell-phone, and you’ll see the world flash before his or her eyes, as though they are going to miss and be left-out of something incredibly important.
Once digital addiction in tweens and teens occurs and takes hold of the psyche, it spreads, and it’s hard to control or curb without strict measures put into place. It’s even harder for teenagers to truly experience and learn about life. Instead of enjoying majestic mountain scenery, they’re looking at Facebook or taking a picture of the scenery for Instagram. It’s as though the experience is so outside of self that the senses are not involved, only the sense of sight and touch as it relates to pixels and a phone.
In some cases, digital addiction can lead to the manipulative, deceitful behaviors associated with other addictions. Some teenagers even lie about what they see and do on their phones. Often, there’s a false sense of security about what happens online, and there’s a false sense about what is appropriate for them to view. Just like a drug addict doesn’t take the time to stop and care about the side-effects of the drug, digital addicts don’t stop to care and think of them either.
Digital addiction and the ever-present fear of missing out also causes teenagers to sneak and use their smartphones when they are not supposed to be on them, especially in the middle of the night. Go into any classroom on a Wednesday morning and listen to the teens brag about how late they stayed-up using their phones! Over time, the digital addiction leads to sleep deprivation that in turn causes problems with schoolwork and the daily tasks of life.
It’s common for depression to seep into teenage life when it’s so connected to outside connection. From feeling disconnected to others to feeling sad when someone doesn’t follow, like, or share the teen’s posts, social media does not fill the gap of genuine social interaction, and it leaves the teen feeling empty.
What can parents do?
As parents we are ultimately the ones responsible for teaching our children how to lead healthy and balanced lives! Setting an example with our own use of technology and especially our smartphones is always the first way to approach the problem. Even when we think that they are not listening they are always watching how we lead our lives. Additionally, it is always easier to help your tweens and teens maintain balance in their lives with mobile devices when you use a parental control software.
Netsanity has a suite of services – their TimeBlocker scheduler, can be used regularly to ensure that kids enjoy other activities or spend time finishing homework. If your tweens have a mobile device, NetSanity is currently rolling out a new feature to their current customers called ScreenLock. It can be used on a regular basis to completely block your teen from using their mobile device for texting whenever you feel that they need a healthy break, sleep, or to ensure they are focusing on their homework. Netsanity now offers a free trial on all their plans, so it’s worth checking out. Overall, balance in life will always help your tweens and teens lead a healthy and happy life!
Netsanity was made by parents for parents. With easy to use software designed to give control and sanity back to parents, Netsanity enables a safer and healthier mobile experience for kids. See for yourself with a free trial!
Netsanity is available for both Apple and Android devices.