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3 Major Reasons to Act on Your Teen's Technology Addiction

By Tim Woda on January 5, 2015 at 2:54 PM

As a parent of a teen, you already have to deal with teens testing limits, staying out past curfew or maybe even experimenting with sex and drugs. Some parents turn a blind eye when their teens are always on their phone- texting or on social media. After all, there are many worse things to worry about, right?

Wrong. Technology addiction in teens can create the same consequences as drug experimentation or getting in with the wrong crowd. It could prevent a teen from developing into a mature, well-rounded adult. It could mean that you’ll have your teen around for much longer than expected because he can’t concentrate enough to stay in college or have enough patience or will to keep a job.

Turns out, teenage tech addiction has become so damaging that some parents are having to send their kids to technology addiction rehabilitation centers for a good helping of support groups and cognitive behavioral therapy.

What could be so bad about my teen playing video games and texting for hours if he’s already done his homework for the night, you may ask? Here are three major reasons to act on your teen's technology addiction. 

1. Attention deficits. Teens, these days, have three forms of technology in front of them sometimes while doing homework- a smart phone, a laptop or computer and a TV buzzing in the background. Many teens, tweens and millennials take pride in constant multitasking. Over time, their brains have been rewired to create easily distracted people who have a hard time focusing. 

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Is My Child Watching Pornography Online?

By Steven Woda on September 11, 2014 at 6:21 PM

When we think of people who are consumers of online porn, we automatically picture grown adults. However, with access to pornographic sites becoming increasingly widespread, a large number of tweens and teens are believed to have viewed some kind of online porn.  

How Many Children Are Watching Porn?

Today, it's reported that at least 90 percent of kids between the ages of 8 and 16 have watched pornography online at least once. Not only have most tweens and teens seen porn, but boys ages 12 to 17 are actually the largest consumers of online pornography. With this statistic, pornography has even been compared to being the drug of choice for youth.

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Does Tech Really Impact Obesity Rates in the US?

By Tim Woda on August 25, 2014 at 2:41 PM

If you've ever had to persuade your child to put down the game controller and go outside -- or if you have to coax them away from their smartphones to eat a well-balanced meal -- you already understand the impact that technology can have on physical activity and diet. While modern innovations make academic research easier than ever, they also come with a whole host of health risks, and teenagers face a bigger threat than anyone else. 

It's no coincidence that obesity rates have skyrocketed in the United States right alongside innovation. While great thinkers can harness new technology to make the world a better place, there are downsides to modernization too.

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Is My Child Suffering From Gaming Addiction?

By Steven Woda on July 10, 2014 at 3:57 PM

The number of children addicted to video games is increasing at an alarming rate. More and more kids are choosing the television and PC screens over interpersonal interactions with friends and family. Games have become so advanced that they have the power to captivate players like never before. Let's take a look at some signs of video game addiction along with some parenting strategies that can wean kids off of video games.

Signs Of Addiction

Your child may be addicted to video games if he spends most of his free time in front of the screen and has developed an anti-social personality. If the first thing he does when he gets home from school is head over to his console for some Xbox Live or his PC for an online game like World Of Warcraft,

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Too Much Tech: Preventing Digital Addiction in your Tween-to-Teen

By Steven Woda on June 25, 2014 at 5:27 PM

As an adolescent counselor, most of my time is spent talking and connecting with text-happy, Instagram-snapping, YouTube-watching, Halo-shooting, iPhone-obsessed middle- and high-schoolers and their parents.

Recently, I received a call from a parent who said, “My 13-year-old is absolutely addicted to technology. If she’s not texting, then she’s emailing. If she’s not emailing, she’s on YouTube or Instagram. If she’s not doing that, then she is playing with a new app. I really don’t know what to do. Help!” 

I get it. I really do. I have three tween-to-teens of my own. So, when it came to writing an article on digital addiction and adolescents, I didn’t have to look much further than my own house. Seriously, it was in my own house. 

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Is Your Cell Phone Use at Dinnertime Hurting Your Kids?

By Tim Woda on April 27, 2014 at 3:17 PM

This article was originally published on the Huffington Post by Dr. Gregory Jantz.

There's a fascinating study out from the Boston Medical Center in this month's edition of Pediatrics entitled, "Patterns of Mobile Device Use by Caregivers and Children During Meals in Fast Food Restaurants." Researchers went to 15 fast food restaurants in the Boston area and covertly watched caregivers and kids during meal times. The results were interesting, in a car wreck sort of way. Of the 55 caregiver/child(ren) interactions observed, 40 of the 55 involved a mobile device being accessed at some point during the meal by the caregiver; that's around 73%. When a cell phone was used, 40% of the time it was used almost continuously by the caregiver. Mealtimes used to be about face-to-face interactions; apparently, that's not the case anymore. Instead, meal times are becoming face-to-screen interactions, with a few fries mixed in.

When I was growing up, television was both applauded and derided as an electronic babysitter; for many, it still is, although television has been joined by a plethora of other screens. Plop the kid in front of the screen so the adult could do something else. I'll admit to resorting to such a strategy a time or two when my kids were younger. Reading this study, though, it seems like the electronic babysitter has switched. Instead of parking the kid in front of the screen so the adult can do something else, it's the adult parked in front of the screen, and who cares what the kid's doing?

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I'd Rather Lose My Ford or My Finger Than My Phone

By Tim Woda on April 13, 2014 at 10:48 AM

This article was originally posted on The Huffington Post by Tim Elmore.

In case you're wondering how kids today think, new research enables us to answer that question and see how absolutely different they are from their elders.

According to recent Pew Research, adolescents put technology in the same category as air and water. They feel they need it to live their lives. In fact, they would rather give up their pinky finger than their mobile device. I interpret this to mean they use their smartphone far more than they do their smallest finger. Incredible.

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How to Stop Your Babysitter from Texting and Tweeting on the Job

By Steven Woda on March 31, 2014 at 9:38 AM

This article was originally published on Common Sense Media by Sierra Filucci. 

It used to be that the worst thing a babysitter could do was raid the refrigerator. But this was before Facebook, texting, social media, and emojis. Today's sitters sneak -- or outright flaunt -- something many of us parents don't know how to deal with: constant texting, Instagramming, You-Tube-watching, you name it. So how do you dole out the rules?

Of course, the most important thing is that your kids are safe while they're under someone else's care. You might think the worst could never happen to your kids, but mobile devices just make getting distracted even easier, and that can have tragic consequences. Less severe than a major accident, but still disturbing, would be finding out your babysitter texted all night and ignored your kids.

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5 Myths About Teens and Technology Every Parent Should Ignore

By Steven Woda on March 29, 2014 at 7:36 AM

This article was originally published on the Huffington Post by Elizabeth Perle. 

As the editor of HuffPost Teen, I spend a good part of my day talking to Snapchat-sending, Facebook-hating, selfie-taking, iPhone-obsessed teens that many adults love to judge. I also talk to their parents.

This week, I received a fairly typical email from the concerned mom of one of our bloggers asking questions like: Is having an Internet profile safe? How many people will see it? Will strangers try to communicate with my kid? What about online predators?

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Digital Parenting: Help Your Family Spend Less Time on Their Phone

By Tim Woda on November 29, 2013 at 12:38 PM

The smart phone is a great tool for families. It allows you to remain in constant contact with your kids wherever they are, meaning you never have to worry about where they could be if they are late for dinner – you can simply send them a text, or vice versa. It’s also a great tool for allowing them to keep in better touch with their family, from uncles and aunts to their cousins. Of course, there are drawbacks to smart phones as well.

Kids especially tend to be drawn to the quick fix entertainment that smart phones offer, from access to the Internet to the many games and apps that are available for download. This can lead to your family being glued to their smart phone screens instead of interacting with their family at home.

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Digital Parenting: How Much Internet Activity is Too Much?

By Steven Woda on November 26, 2013 at 11:22 AM

Most news concerning adolescents and the Internet highlight the actual dangers of online scams, cyber-bullies, and sexual predators that endanger credulous, gullible teens. The other risk is teens themselves. Perpetual hours spent online updating Facebook pages, writing tweets, emailing, instant messaging, sending photos on Instagram, downloading music, visits to game sites, shopping, and in some instances gambling, all contribute to the disturbances we see today regarding teen online activity.     

Kids today are spending on average slightly more than ten-hours per day, every day, online. This means that out of 168 hours in a week, kids spend 75 of those hours with some type of electrical or technical gadget.  

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Is Your Child Online Constantly? Time to Think About Parental Controls

By Steven Woda on June 14, 2013 at 3:20 PM

Our next guest blog post for Internet safety month comes from Ann Biddlecom, Senior Product Manager at Kaspersky Lab, one of the world's leading Internet security companies. Read on for her take on keeping your children safe on the computer.

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Digital Parenting: 5 Signs Your Child is Addicted to Facebook

By Tim Woda on May 31, 2013 at 5:21 PM

Social networking sites are a popular way for children and teenagers to keep in touch with each other and stay updated with what is going on in their lives. Facebook is currently the most popular site by far, and the process of updating your own status, and looking at other users' information, can take up quite a bit of a child's time. Unfortunately, some kids are on the site far too often and for long durations of time, leading to what can be called "Facebook addiction". This can lead to slipping grades, disciplinary problems, and social anxiety.

Stepping in before Facebook addiction becomes a real problem can be done with sensible digital parenting and Parental Intelligence solutions, but it always helps to know what to look for in order to tell if your child is addicted to Facebook. These 5 signs should be taken very seriously and if they are present, you should be prepared to set rules and limits on Facebook usage.

1. Is your child constantly on Facebook?

A child being constantly on Facebook is a sure sign of Facebook addiction. If their time on the site can be summarized as "multiple hours a day", you should have a talk with your child and let them know that it can be potentially unhealthy to be on Facebook for so long every day. Facebook monitoring programs can help you determine how long they are on and what exactly they are doing on the site.

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6 Key Indicators Showing Your Teen's Addiction To Social Media

By Steven Woda on April 13, 2013 at 7:37 AM

 

Having your kids “constantly connected” is not a new thing. When I was a teenager we had the same addiction to music as modern teens have with social media. My parents used to refer this unconscious state as “plugged in”, which described me as; headphones in and music up so loud that I couldn’t hear the outside world. At the time I loved music so much that I would listen to it all the time, as loud as could, frequently blaring it from my second floor speaker system so loud the entire neighborhood could hear it. I’m fairly certain my thought process at that time was as follows: This music is really good (which it wasn't), but this music is really really good turned up all the way, and because if Ilike it so much, everyone else should hear it too, right? [Cranks volume knob all the way to the right]

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Cyberbullying, Harassment, Stalking and Addiction

By Tim Woda on March 26, 2013 at 2:55 PM

The Internet is an amazing thing. It is a way to connect individuals from around the world, together without ever having to leave the comfort of home. It can be used to gather information that was never accessible so readily and provides for a way to discuss aspects of life with old and new friends. With this power and greatness, though, come many risks, especially when it comes to children. All individuals, including children and teenagers, are susceptible to cyber harassment, stalking, and potential addictions as the result of Internet usage. The following explains more. 

Cyber Bullying Crime and Harassment

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12 Signs Your Teen Is Addicted to Their Smartphone

By Steven Woda on August 16, 2012 at 9:15 AM

I'll admit it. Smartphones are pretty addictive. They're fun to use, make it easy to stay in touch with anybody no matter where you are, and can do just about everything. I'm pretty sure you could spend a whole day on the couch without ever getting up except to go to the bathroom and eat – and maybe your teen has.

Have you seen your texting teenager and wondered whether they're really addicted to their smartphone?

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Smartphones – Your Teen's Life Then and Now

By Steven Woda on August 13, 2012 at 10:45 AM

Does your teen have a smart phone? You've probably noticed that it makes a teenager's life a lot different than when we were kids.

No more asking to use the house phone at a friend's house to call home –  just text mom to ask her if it's okay to spend the night. No need to plan a night out – just check in on FourSquare and find out where everybody is. And that cute guy in Spanish class? You can get the inside scoop on him on Facebook without even talking to him.

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Internet Habits and Patterns: Red Flags For Teen Depression

By Steven Woda on August 10, 2012 at 10:15 AM

All parents know that the Internet is a place that requires parental involvement and parental monitoring. There are cyberbullies, online predators, and identity thieves out there to worry about.

But the obvious dangers notwithstanding, did you know that some Internet uses and behaviors may also be linked to a teen's physical and mental health, too? Many studies suggest a correlation between certain types of online behavior and physical or mental health problems, from anxiety to obesity.

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Kids Safety: What To Do When There's Too Much Texting

By Tim Woda on February 14, 2012 at 9:40 AM

At this week's book club meeting, the parents in the room were bemoaning how much our teenagers text. For those of us who are used to using the good old landline phone (bonus points if yours was not cordless), it can almost seem ridiculous. New dangers and scares for parents include sexting, cyberbullying, and everything in between.

One of the moms exclaimed. “My daughter will spend half an hour texting her friends back and forth to coordinate a school project when a 5-minute phone call would clear everything right up!” Our kids just text a lot – some statistics say that the average teen sends and receives over 3,000 texts per month.

Do you feel that your teen is truly texting too much? It can be hard to get perspective on what's normal for a teen, since we didn't grow up with the option of texting anytime, anywhere. Try talking to other parents to get a feel for what's normal for your child and her peers.

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Kids Safety: Teen Sentenced for Killing to Pay for Online Games

By Steven Woda on February 11, 2012 at 10:59 AM

Depositphotos_13167385_sParents worry about their kids safety playing online video games for a lot of reasons: too much screen time, too often, too late at night, too violent – the list goes on. But they probably have never given much thought to a scenario like this one before.

18-year old Le Van Luyen of Hanoi, Vietnam confessed in August to the triple murders of a shopkeeper, his wife, and his 19-month-old daughter (inexplicably, he also cut off the 9-year-old daughter's hand) in order to pay for his online gaming habit

.Luyen was sentenced this month to 18 years in prison for murder and armed robbery. He took jewelery and gold worth around $100,000 after the crime was committed. He told authorities he needed the money to play Kiem The, a particularly violent online game.

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