You’d be hard-pressed to find a teenager these days who isn’t actively plugged into some form of technology or media. This generation has better access to technology, media, and information than at any time in our history. Your grandparents couldn’t imagine the opportunities afforded to your children, and the lifestyle benefits they enjoy. For example, we can communicate with friends and family all over the world in instant real time! And it isn’t just audio. We can see their faces, hear their voices, and get most of the benefits of face-to-face in-person communication. Teenagers also benefit from access to information and resources on every subject imaginable. They can learn about any curiosity or interest, regardless of their situation or background.
The access to technology and media comes with a significant set of challenges and problems. Increased connectivity means your teens can connect with anyone – yes, anyone. Most of the time it’s their friends and classmates, but it could also include strangers, bad influences, and even criminals. The unlimited nature of our media today means that there are also issues with when and where to draw lines. How much is too much? How far is too far? What’s normal? What’s harmless? Technology and media addictions are very real for teens, and also very common.
Common Technology & Media Addictions in Teens
- Social Media – many teens can find themselves addicted to one or more social media platforms. They may check the site or app multiple times a day – or even an hour. They may find themselves anxious and nervous if they’re unable to check or participate on their social media site, especially if they’ve cultivated a reputation or following.
- Technology in General – once a teen gets a personal cell phone it becomes an addiction to always have it on them, charged, and constantly in use. Taking a teen’s phone can show just how addicted they’ve become. Computers, iPads, iPods, gaming consoles, and other tech devices can show the same effects.
- Video Games – more common in boys, but increasing for all teens are video games of all sorts. Whether it’s gaming systems like Xbox, computer games like World of Warcraft or Minecraft, or phone-based video game applications, video games can be addictive and take over a teen’s life. Violent games in particular can be addictive and harmful.
- TV, Books, Movies – Teens can sometimes fixate on a particular media, character, or “fandom.” It’s becoming more common for teens to “binge-watch” shows and movies, or to immerse themselves in a fictional world of some type. This can border on addiction when it controls their time.
- Pornography – unfortunately it is a growing trend for teens to become exposed and then addicted to pornography. This trend is dangerous and frightening, although common.
It’s important to look for signs of addiction in your teens, particularly with technology and media, and to address them. If you fear your teen is showing signs of dangerous addiction, or it appears that their addiction is interfering with their ability to develop normally – seek help immediately from a therapist or therapeutic treatment center before it’s too late.