COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Could you be digitally addicted? Experts we spoke with said it’s a growing problem that’s only getting worse. And, it’s putting everything from our relationships to our jobs at risk.
What is digital addiction?
Maryhaven treats people with all kind of addictions, including digital addictions. President and CEO Paul Coleman said if you have a hard time putting down your phone or logging off, you could be addicted.
“Internet addiction is a real problem for certain patients,” he said.
Coleman said symptoms of digital addiction are similar to other addictive illnesses. You can’t stop. You have withdrawal symptoms and your relationships, job, or both are suffering.
“Whether it is consumption of alcohol or drugs or gambling, or internet use… if that behavior causes problems in your life as defined by others, which would not be there if you weren’t doing it, then it is an addictive illness,” he said.
Coleman said if you think you’re addicted, track your time online. Then, try to cut back. If you just can’t seem to log off he said give a professional a call.
“In the future, we’ll see more issues,” he said.
Digital addiction isn’t just an issue for adults. Maryhaven said men and children are being treated the most for digital addiction. When it comes to technology and kids, how much is too much? A local school district has advice for parents to help their kids log off.
The Hilliard Public School District holds parent workshops every month to help moms and dads parent in the digital world.
“We do hear from parents often. They’re like, it seems like my kid won’t stop playing games at home,” said mom and District Technology Teachers Kathy Parker-Jones. She said it’s all about a balanced digital diet at school and home.
“We encourage parents to develop contracts with their kids and look at creating time limits for their students.”
She said parents can also go in and set restrictions on devices with passcodes.
She said both are key to protecting children from digital dangers.
“We’re trying to make an awareness with parents so that they can monitor their children at home,” she said.
The 48-Hour Challenge
A Westerville family asked their teenagers to give up their smartphones for 48 hours.
Mike and Gina Whalen have 16-year-old quintuplets. On Saturday at 5pm, they asked their kids to hand over their cellphones.
Gina Whalen said her request was met with some questions and frustration.
Whalen told her kids, “This is not horrible. Listen, it’s just going to help other people out there to help them know how often teens use their phones and how much they rely on them to communicate 24 hours a day. Just to see if you can survive without it for 2 days. I know you guys can.”
Some of the teens got on board, while others were not excited.”
A 2015 report released by American Academy of Pediatrics suggests small screen use can keep kids brains and bodies alert when they are supposed to be sleeping. The report said it throws off their natural sleep rhythm and interrupt their sleep with notifications.
Not enough sleep can lead to obesity, poor school performance and even behavioral problems.
Common Sense Media suggests downloading an app to disable kids devices at bedtime.
Parents can also model the behavior they want to see themselves.