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Is My Child Addicted to Technology?

From The Parent Cue
We live in a digital world. Laptops. Tablets. Smartphones. Smart TVs. There are so many devices that occupy our kids’ attention. Controlling screen time is an ever-present task for parents, but it can be tricky because screens are literally everywhere. The challenge is this: technology isn’t going anywhere. And I’m not even suggesting that it should. But with so many screen-obsessed young people glued to their devices, parents can’t help but wonder . . .

Is my child addicted?

The answer is, not likely. The term “addiction” has a very specific definition in the world of psychology. Being addicted to something means that there is a chemical change in the brain that leads you to require more and more of that thing in order to be able to function. For example, your child’s social media usage or gaming would have to trump all other activities—schoolwork, engaging in sports, hanging out with friends—to qualify.  

Additionally, technology use is not the same as drug or alcohol addiction since devices serve an important role in our kids’ lives. Technology is now required for schoolwork and to stay connected, particularly during a global pandemic.

So, what appears to be screen-obsession can also be a reflection of how today’s tweens and teens socialize and maintain peer connection. While parents are correct to be concerned (and maybe even disturbed) about the increasing use of technology among children and teens, most experts in the psychiatric community do not describe what most parents are seeing as an addiction. That, of course, could change.

However, I’d like to pose a different, but equally important, question.