Technology Addiction: Illness or Bad Habit

In a recent article posted on The Mirror website titled, “Girl aged four is Britain’s youngest-known iPad addict”, Gemma Aldridge discusses how a 4 year old girl from Britain is receiving psychiatric treatment for compulsive behavior due to the fact she was becoming obsessed with playing games on her iPad.  In the article Ms. Aldridge states that psychiatrist Dr. Richard Graham, from London’s Capio Nightingale Clinic, is treating the 4 year old.  Here is a link to one of Dr. Graham’s articles titled “Too Much of a Good Thing,” which discusses children in regards to addictive behavior and technology.

On the other hand, here is a sort of “rebuttal” of the article from Philip Hickey, PH. D, titled “Internet Addiction: A Bad Habit, Not An Illness” from his blog Behaviorism and Mental Health.

While both articles look at opposite sides of the issue of technology addiction, the message about parenting in this digital age is very clear.  Ms. Aldridge sums it up quite well when she states, “It should also be a wake-up call for parents that what children really need is good adult role models who interact with them…instead of being too busy checking their own texts and Facebook pages.”

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2 thoughts on “Technology Addiction: Illness or Bad Habit

  1. Kathy April 29, 2013 at 9:00 am Reply

    Great look at both sides. Knowledge is power, either way.

  2. Kristie Jochmann April 29, 2013 at 10:07 am Reply

    Steve,
    Thanks for bringing this to light. I think both of these articles speak to the heart of the discussion. It would be great to print both articles and give them to parents at orientation for new ipads. These two articles differ on “treatment” but they both agree on the problem. Almost all kids who spend time with technology experience a massive magnetic drift in a way that is alarming. It is very hard to utilize the technology in a way that is balanced and keep an eye on what is truly important in life. I’m not saying it is impossible, but I have seen very few families do it successfully. What I have seen is kids who become less engaged with the world, less interested in family, less interested in learning, less inquisitive, depressed and even downright angry when their “drug” is taken away. This is something that should worry every parent.

    What these two articles differ about is the solution. Can it be solved by a parent or do you need a $10K/month detox program? Well, that all depends on the parent, but I agree that if parents just regained the common sense they were born with and were willing to make the hard calls now, their kids (and they) would benefit later. Kids feel important when they know their parents are interested in them. Technology is a poor substitute for interaction with family and the world. People talk about quality time versus quantity, but I think that is a sham, you need both. These may be fighting words, but I would say there are not enough hours in the day for parents to interact with kids, let alone to share that time in any significant way with technology. And the example you set for your kids is the one they pay attention to, not what you say. If parents find their ipads more interesting than a walk, a game, time with family, then kids will too. I have no reservations about telling my kids that almost everything we can do as a family is way more important than anything you can be doing on that machine- whether it is chopping vegetables to prepare for dinner, riding bikes, turning on music to dance, talking about what is in the news, climbing a tree. If we want our kids to use their brains, we have to use ours. There are no shortcuts. As one of the authors said: in general when kids don’t get what they want in the short term, it is better for them in the long term.

    Thanks for putting this discussion out there. I think this is where it needs to be. We should set a high bar for using technology in ways that enrich our lives and must consider the serious implications when we allow ourselves to slide down the slippery slope.

    Kristie Jochmann

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