Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Denver Mental Health Counselor: Screen Time Addiction Behavior

Today's Blog Post: This is Part Two of Two. 

Before reading, it's best to read part one at Is Your Child a Screen Time Addict?

Answering the question from part one -- If you take Screen Time (ST) away from your children, expect behavioral withdrawal symptoms, ranging from mild to severe.

Globally, we now have a generation of Screen Time (ST) children.  They are now entering a bio-social stage development period, commonly known as the Teenage years. Under normal circumstances, they begin exploring their identity and social relationships. It is natural for them to: Pull away from mom, dad, and family; seek privacy, personal freedoms and spend more time with friends; explore sexuality and drugs/alcohol.  Now add in ST Addiction -- get ready, the captain has turned on the fastened seat belt sign -- expect a rough ride and difficult landing.  

Based on my experience working with families, here are some tell-tale signs your kids are ST Addicts:

  • Digital devices were given to children at an early age; however, ST addiction can occur at any age.
  • Cell phones are with them night and day.
  • They go to bed with their cell phones, frequently texting throughout the night. 
  • Constantly lying, irrational excuses, impulsive behaviors, low mood affect or depression like symptoms.
  • Narcissistic-Self-Centric: Low empathy, give me my resources and don't bother me attitude.
  • Social Isolation: Friends are only online, or carefully selected, who have families that offer easy access to ST and other 'happy' resources.  Avoiding or resisting large group activities (they avoid having to talk face-to-face with people, especially family). 
  • Avoid responsibility and accountability.  Will not participate in family activities, including home chores.  Will not seek, or will resist employment. 
  • Frequent video-gaming -- excessive hours -- gaming for + 15 hours is not uncommon! 
  • Poor sleep and diet.
  • Trouble waking, late to school or skip school frequently. 

WARNING:  Do not allow your children to do nothing over school breaks -- keep them busy -- if not, and if they have access to ST, you are asking for major problems -- especially over the long summer break, when ST may increase exponentially and behaviors will worsen!  

Based on my experience with families who attempt to cut-off or reduce ST, here's what you can expect (especially from boys):  

  • Anger, violent outburst, physical and verbal abuse, vindictiveness, and destruction of property (be ready to call 911 and/or crisis hotline).
  • Impulsive odd behaviors, suicide ideation/attempts, self-harming, stealing, etc.
  • Frequent visit to friend's -- to get their ST fix. 
  • School performance (grades) might drop.
  • Alcohol and drugs use, well above normal experimental limits. Here in Colorado, teen drug use/addiction is at an all time high (no pun intended).  
  • Sexual activity may begin earlier than expected. 
What to do -- A sudden cut-off or well managed ST Addiction withdrawal plan?  Every family and child are different.  There is no 'silver bullet," but please feel free to contact us -- we have worked with many families with ST Addiction issues, and we believe we can help.

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