In today’s digital age, parents from all across America have found that technology can become a stumbling block in developing a healthy relationship with their teens. Teens can often develop an unhealthy dependency on technology, which can lead to digital addictions.
Because of our unique therapeutic approach, Shepherds Hill Academy (SHA) is able to effectively address the symptoms commonly associated with digital addiction. We do this in four primary ways. But first, what is a digital addiction?
What is a Digital Addiction?
As with any addiction, a digital addiction (sometimes called “technology addiction”) refers to someone who has an unhealthy dependency on digital technology. Two things that can lead to a digital addiction are: the amount of time spent on a device and the type of content the teen is engaged in.
How Much Time is Your Teen on a Digital Device?
If you suspect that your teen has a technology addiction and may be in need of therapeutic care, consider evaluating the amount of time your teen is engaging in some form of digital activity (i.e., video games, movies, social media, etc.).
The amount of time spent engaging in a particular digital activity can develop into addictive behaviors.
- Video games are often inherently designed to lead a player on a never ending journey. It can develop into an insatiable appetite for the player to get to the “next level” of performance. Consider the 2016 phenomenon of Pokemon GO as a recent example. Millions of kids, and adults alike, were mesmerized with this game.
- Social media can draw a teen into a world of never ending status checks, updates and posts. This results in teens being constantly engaged with their peers through digital means. There is also the common acronym, FOMO, common to so many kids online. It means Fear of Missing Out. And it’s a genuine fear.
Without boundaries on the time spent engaging in a digital activity, teens can develop addictive habits. One preventative measure you can take is to develop boundaries to help minimize the access your teen has to different devices in your home.
Exposure to Illicit Content Can Lead to a Digital Addiction
In addition to the amount of time your teen engages in digital technology, your teen may be prone to addiction by the illicit nature of the content he/she is being exposed to. Some common examples we see are:
- Illicit songs containing profane, derogatory lyrics and sexual imagery that can set your teen up for failure.
- Movies and video games that contain illicit imagery that too often foster unhealthy attitudes and behaviors.
- Unencumbered access to the Internet makes being exposed to some of the grossest forms of pornography almost inevitable. At an early age, this can trap young minds in a vicious cycle of sexual perversion.
The type of content your teen is exposed to can potentially develop a digital addiction. As a preventative measure, parents should determine the type of content they’ll permit their family to access and form a system of accountability. Covenant Eyes accountability software is just one of many programs available for your home computer. The family computer should be placed in a common area in your home. Remember that whatever digital system of accountability you use, your kids are likely to find a way around it if they really want to. The goal is to create an atmosphere where they aren’t provoked or allured by easy access.
Signs to Look For
Many families may be unaware of the concept of digital addiction, but it is just as real and just as chemical as any drug addiction; it affects body and brain chemistry the same way. If you are uncertain if your teen is struggling with an addiction to technology, consider asking yourself the following questions:
- Does your teen seem distant or in a constant daydream when he/she is not on a device?
- Have you noticed your teen wanting to remain isolated from family and peers?
- Does he/she prefer staying in his room instead of socializing or being with family?
- Is your teen perpetually irritable, lethargic and impatient?
- Do you find that your teen’s overall demeanor and interaction with others is apathetic?
- Does he/she consistently find it difficult to get out of bed and then stay awake during the day?
- If you take away your teen’s digital devices, does he/she become intensely angry or enraged?
- Does your teen seem frustrated more frequently and intensely when performing other tasks?
These are some clear signs that your teen may struggle with digital addiction. Fortunately, Shepherds Hill Academy has found a therapeutic solution that can help your teen overcome technology addictions.
How Shepherds Hill Academy Can Help Technology Addiction
If you feel your teen is in need of therapeutic care because of some form of a digital addiction, Shepherds Hill can help. As the digital age grows deeper roots, we have been able to develop a program that specifically addresses unhealthy dependence on digital technology in four ways. We accomplish this by intentionally applying the following:
- With exception to certain academic activities, we intentionally provide an environment that remains unplugged and technology-free. This has proven to be a success with kids who struggle with digital addictions. Many kids never imagined the freedom and creativity they experienced without being glued to their devices.
- During their stay at SHA, teens engage in activities that provide opportunities to re-train habits and appetites for things that are more wholesome and productive. They learn there’s a life beyond digital technology.
- Without the distractions of cell phones and other devices constantly bombarding them, teens find time to discuss and pursue answers to life’s deeper meanings. The FOMO diminishes, therefore stress and anxiety diminish also, making them feel human again.
- Our unplugged environment gives teens the margin and balance in life to re-develop the critical, constructive and creative thinking skills that, albeit unknowingly, digital abuse had taken from them. Their brains truly get retuned to their “original factory settings” as God intended. They become re-equipped to hear the voice of God. The abstract things of life—the deeper spiritual concepts and truths—return to them.
At Shepherds Hill Academy, we embrace technology and understand that digital technology is here to stay. However, we also do not deny the addictive nature it tends to promote in so many of today’s teens. We have worked with numerous teens that have struggled with various degrees of addiction to technology. At our unique Christian therapeutic boarding school, we are able to intentionally address digital addiction. As a result, we have seen families healed and develop appropriate, healthy interactions with today’s technology. Our goal is not to isolate our kids from our culture, but to insulate them long enough to make physical, emotional and spiritual leaps toward healing and wholeness. The transformations we have seen are astonishing and scientifically supported.