Why are behavior addictions are on the rise among children and teenagers? With COVID-19 affecting our lives, it is no wonder that our internet use as a nation is up 70%. Likewise, tv viewing is up over 300% among children and teens since the pandemic hit. Gaming and social media are being used to fill all the extra free time people now have.
Gaming and social media may be the only way for our children to connect with friends right now. Yet, the consequences of unlimited screen time can be severe. Excessive or unlimited screen time can lead to an addiction.
Does your child seem to have a phone, controller, or computer in front of their face for most of the day? If so, they may be developing an addiction. In this article, we’ll discuss the signs of gaming and social media addictions. We’ll also provide some tips to help your child re-set and hopefully avoid a painful addiction. Gaming and Social Media Use, The Warning Signs and Symptoms of an addiction
As a result of stay-at-home orders across the country, screen time increased dramatically. With an increase in screen time comes an increase in the possibility of addiction.
There are a variety of terms we hear when talking about screen time and addiction. Gaming addiction, social media addiction, and screen addiction are a few of the more common terms. Recently, The World Health Organization named Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD) as a diagnosable condition.
The consequences of the disorder, as with any addiction, can be severe. IGD can affect academics and relationships. Furthermore, it can interfere with social interactions and lead to depression. Internet Gaming Disorder can also lead to financial issues. Likewise, anxiety, loneliness, despair, and other symptoms of addiction are also linked to IGD.
There are warning signs that a gaming or social media addiction may be looming.
People who struggle to ‘fit in’ with peers may turn to excessive social media use or gaming. Often those who are lacking confidence or are shy can connect with strangers online. Face-to-face interactions may feel intimidating, but behind a screen, it feels safer to talk to others. As a result, a false sense of connection can begin to form. Does your child or teen prefer to be online rather than interacting with peers offline?
Have you recently imposed a limit to screen use? How did your child or teen react? If you were suddenly met with an outburst of anger or aggression, an addiction might be forming.
What does your child’s routine look like? If gaming and screen time have replaced school work, exercise, chores, and mealtimes, your child may need help.
At Fort Worth Counseling & Intervention, we can discuss the warning signs you may be seeing.
What should I do if gaming and social media have taken over?
Social Media networks use psychological hooks to keep users on their screens. The same is true in the gaming industry. As a result, people feel inclined to log in and check their likes and comments. Children and teens may need to log in to complete a task in order to receive their reward. Keep in mind; platforms were designed to encourage frequent and even excessive use.
While gaming and social media seem to be the only way you can connect with your child, it is possible to re-set.
Here are a few ideas:
Return to routine
Enforce strict sleep schedules. Poor sleep routines can lead to screen addiction.
Enforce time limits. Lock their phones or gaming devices down once they reach their limit.
Interact with your children. You can play a board game or go outside for a walk. They may need to relearn what real human connection feels like.
At Fort Worth Counseling & Intervention, we understand the effects of social media addiction on people’s lives. A period of abstinence helps re-set and de-tech the brain. We are here to answer your questions and provide you with the guidance you or your child may need.