An article published in the Forbes magazine online goes over how phone addiction is in fact a real issue and over the resulting mental health implications it may have. Screen addiction would apply to phones as well as tablets and by this yardstick it would be safe to say that screen addiction is a real thing.
At the same time there are others who argue that screen addiction is a myth given life by overprotective parents and those with an inherent tech phobia. So is screen an actual thing or not?
Psychiatrists, psychologists and other mental health professionals in the U.S. and other parts of the world refer to a manual known as the DSM-V. This manual documents and describes the various maladaptive and psychotic disorders which have been studied and in a sense formally proven to exist.
The DSM-V makes no formal mention of ‘screen addiction’ per say. What it does formally mention is something called ‘internet and gaming disorder’ which has many overlapping features with what has informally been coined as screen addiction.
This being said, the fact that the manual does not formally validate the term screen addiction results in more rigid minded mental health professionals denying its existence altogether.
The Argument For
At the same time there are many specialists and mental health professionals who argue that though it might not be formally mentioned in the manual, screen addiction is very real. What one needs to remember is what DSM-V stands for is; Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition).
As the science of psychology and mental health is still young in comparison to others, theories are in a constant state of development and evolution. As a result, the DSM is updated every few years, omitting things that are no longer seen as disorders and making additions of newly discovered psycho-emotional problems.
There is a large group of researchers and mental health professionals who believe that certain clusters of compulsive behaviors may be classed as addiction. By this logic, they believe that screen addiction is very much an actual thing.
Identifying Screen Addiction
What you’re probably wondering now is how you could go about identifying screen addiction in your children. As with any addictive behaviors, screen addiction among other things would involve spending a lot of time over the phone or on the tablet.
Apart from duration, use of the phone or tablet may seem almost compulsive. The children or teens in question may have trouble putting their devices down during meals with family, would engage less socially and more with their devices in social settings and so on.
There is also the chance of children partaking in risky behaviors like having long drawn conversations with questionable strangers that they meet over social media.
Last but not least, if a child is suffering from what could be screen addiction; this could trigger panic on occasions where device access was limited. Say overreacting because you forgot your phone at home even though you’re leaving for a family picnic!
So What Does a Parent Do?
All this may leave many parents wondering what to do about it. If you’re thinking cracking down on your kids and banning phone use will help it probably won’t. When kids want to do something, they find a way. The idea is to educate, inform and monitor your children, gently pushing them in the right direction as and when needed.
This would involve placing some boundaries, helping your kids get involved in other activities and encouraging them to do the same. We’re talking about nurturing interests and hobbies that do not involve screen or phone use.
Finally, if you feel that a level of added vigilance is required and you don’t want to keep asking your children what they’re up to on their devices, there are ways to keep track. You have phone spy apps and software for android and iPhone operating systems that allow you to discreetly monitor your children’s phone use.
This way you know exactly how much time they are spending over the screen. If your children are spending all night on their phones or not being honest about how much time they spend with the same you will know it. Early detection means you will be able to address the problem quickly thus reducing the damages.
In conclusion, we will say that screen addiction is very real but as you can see, it is not something you need to worry about. If you take the right steps and do your due diligence, there is no way you won’t be able to protect your children from screen addiction and other risky behaviors!