Parents: The Modern Dragon Slayers, Taming Technology in Homes - Part 1
Updated: Sep 2, 2022
More and more parents feel like a dragon is lurking in their homes. The heads of the beast come in many subtle forms, sometimes parents are unaware.
After her daughter’s suicide attempt, parent Christina Langton in an interview with Time Magazine remarked, “It didn’t occur to me not to let her have the phone in her room at night,” she says. “I just wasn’t thinking about the impact of the phone on her self-esteem or self-image until after everything happened.”
One young woman, Jessica Frelow, explained on BeYourself how social media began to affect her self-esteem. “I fell into the trap of wanting to change my appearance, so that people would see me, how I viewed the people without flaws. The life that I was leading felt inadequate. . .. The slope is slippery. If you are not careful, it is easy to fall victim to it.”
Smith Alley, after dealing with a heavy pornography addiction from age of 10 years old, said of his pornography use, "[T]hese sources of love or entertainment there, they give you all of the chemicals that your brain wants, but it leaves you emotionally torn and it leaves you feeling worthless, worthless, and leaves you feeling worse than you did before."
Some gaming addictions can be costly as explained in an article in The Washington Post. A 15-year-old became so obsessed with video games that he was “consumed by the virtual worlds shared by millions of strangers.” He even began to hallucinate during class. After his parents had exhausted all therapy and medical avenues, they got him help, but a tremendous cost to his parents of over $25,000 dollars in a summer wilderness therapy program.
The more time adolescents spent on each screen media activity, the more negative their mental health and well-being. [i]
Adolescents are particularly at risk for being terrorized by this beast of overuse and addictions from smart devices. 95% of teens in the United States have or have access to a smartphone device and 45% of teens use the internet “almost constantly.”[ii] Family conflicts, friend conflicts, poor academic performance, and suicide attempts were correlated to higher smartphone usage.[iii]
These are the deadly heads that begin to pop-up up in homes. Smartphone usage, particularly social media use, has been linked to mental distress and suicide in teens. A steep rise in mental health conditions and treatment has risen in the last decade.[iv] Screen-based technology behaviors in children and youth are leading to more sedentary behaviors affecting adolescent’s health. As a result of screen usage, obesity is an increasing trend with these age groups.
Most parents are fighting this multiple-headed beast and don’t really know what to do. Although these dangers lurk in our homes through screens, the good news is that parents do have the weapons to tame this beast! (See: Tips for Taming Tech - Part 2)
[i] Twenge, J. (2021). Not all screen time is created equal: associations with mental health vary by activity and gender. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 56, 207-217. doi:https://doi-org.byui.idm.oclc.org/10.1007/s00127-020-01906-9
[ii] Anderson, M., & Jiang, J. (2018, May 31). Teens, social media & technology 2018. Retrieved from Pew Research Center: Internet & Technology: https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2018/05/31/teens-social-media-technology-2018/ [iii] Min-Hyuk, K., Min, S., Ahn, J., An, C., & Lee, J. (2019). Association between high adolescent smartphone use and academic impairment, conflicts with family members or friends, and suicide attempts. PLoS One, 14(7). doi:http://dx.doi.org.byui.idm.oclc.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0219831 [iv] Abi-Jaoude, E., Pignatiello, A, &Naylor, K. T. (2020). Smartphones, social media use and youth mental health. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 192(6), E136-141.DOI: 10.1503/cmaj.190434