Teen tech addiction – how to stop it.

Addiction is not just a disease. It is escapism. It is the incessant pursuit of brief happiness, wreaking havoc on the real world around the victim – and consequently, driving them to delve deeper into their relief from reality.

There are two types of addiction. Psychological and physical. Psychological is caused by an emotional need for this drug, a void that needs to be filled. Physical addiction is caused by the body becoming dependent on something. Physical addiction is relatively easy to overcome, those around the victim must simply lock the victim away from their drug until it is out of their system (e.g. a drug rehabilitation centre). Psychological addiction is a completely different story.

What did you do for fun as a child? Personally, I read books, climbed trees and played with firecrackers. When I got a Nokia 3310, I was playing snake. Nowadays even children are receiving tablets and teens, as people in their most social age, find themselves using technology to communicate more than their actual voice. This addiction isn’t just limited to social networks, gaming addiction has escalated to the extent of teens going into a rehabilitation centre, they would go to a gaming bar and spend days without sleeping.

In a recent study, 92% of teens say they go online daily and 24% are online almost constantly. Those old enough to drive are even texting while driving, which has proven to be just as dangerous as drunk driving. Another study performed by Common Sense Media on over 1200 parents and teens found that even teens themselves feel addicted to technology. An entire generation has practically been absorbed by their smartphones.

So how can you stop this?

There are many answers, many are contradictory. You have a decision to make – will you stop it by force, or target the root cause? If you wish to stop it by force, this is what you can do:

1. Confiscate technological devices at a certain time, preferably 90 minutes before bed time as the blue light from screens stimulates your brain and makes it difficult to sleep.
2. Restrict data usage on your router. You can set your router to cut off internet access at a certain time, or even change the password each day and only give them the wifi password when they have completed their chores.
3. Confiscate devices as punishment.
4. Basically, confiscate and limit their usage wherever possible.

However, this is not a physical addiction, this is a psychological addiction. Do not do the above. As someone who used to be heavily addicted to computer games and has personal experience with this, trust me more than the parents that write about their failed attempts online. Although the above methods are recommended on countless websites they will only exacerbate the problem. This is what you need to do:

1. Show them that this world is more beautiful than the digital one. Whatever you need to do, give them something better than their phone.
2. Find the exact reason for this addiction. Are they lonely? Do they have a low self esteem, cover themselves in make-up, add a filter and post a picture that looks nothing like them in a search for likes and compliments? Fix it.
3. Set an example. Do you really think you can look up from your phone to tell your child to get off theirs? Read a book, give them a book, enjoy yourself without technology.
4. As a stepping stone, a form of weaning them off, find a way to incorporate it into the real world. Find a board game that can be played digitally. Get the family together and play it on your devices, then play it with a normal board.
5. Go camping, escape to the wild, somewhere away from technology where they can watch the sunset without the itch in their mind to check their phone every few minutes.

Remember – you cannot just delete their addiction. You have to smother it with something better.

However, if you are more worried about the content that your child is exposed to, you can filter it. Parental control is a growing industry and there is a colossal number of tools available to prevent your child from finding themselves on the more explicit parts of the web. There is some horrific and scarring content online and to block it all out is not an easy task. Especially since most teens have picked up some tricks to circumvent these filters (it’s easier than you’d expect on many filters).

If you want an effective shield against these pages, give us a call. We can set up every device on your network to have faster internet, protection from identity theft, parental controls, documents detailing the internet usage over the last year, you can even add custom filters to either restrict the connection to only a list of sites of your choice, or block out certain types of sites (e.g. adult material).

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