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We have several therapists at Teen Therapy OC. Recently Cameron has joined our team as an Associate Therapist. I’ve asked him to contribute some of his thoughts on screen addiction since he is a great resource for you if your teenager is struggling with this. For the next few weeks you’ll have written blogs and vlogs from Cameron on this topic.

Here Are Cameron’s words:

As a therapist, when I diagnose an “addiction,” I’m asking a few key questions. This is true of any type of addiction, including technology. Go ahead and ask yourself these 5 questions about your teenager to help you determine whether he/she might be addicted to screen time.

1) When there isn’t access to technology, does your teen’s mood worsen?

2) Is the threat of taking away video games, the cell phone, computer or tablet the only thing that motivates your teen to get things done?

3) Has their use increased over time?

4) Will your teenager sneak in order to access it even at times when it is clearly not allowed?

5) Is your teenager’s screen time interfering with their social life, academics, athletics or family time?

If your teenager borders on too much screen time, then the answer to some of these questions will be yes. However, if your teen has a complete addiction, then you probably answered yes to all these questions.

I imagine you’ve become afraid to go cold turkey and just cut off the internet in your house. You worry about the anger and depression your teen will experience while withdrawing. You’re not alone in this fear. Some parents have become so nervous about this, or had such difficulty breaking their teen’s technology addiction, they’ve had to send their adolescent to a residential treatment program.

It’s a tricky thing for parents to navigate. When we grew up we had one or two phone lines in the house, and maybe a pager. Now everything is private and individual. I couldn’t have imagined everyone in the home having a separate phone number when I was a teen. Could you have? So now you’re forced to parent something you never experienced as a teen. You know your teen needs to socialize, exercise, and get out of the house, but you also know they need to be very computer literate for many future jobs; it’s a fine line.

Over the course of the next few weeks I want to walk the journey with you through the sides of technology addiction that harm teenagers. While I won’t be able to cover everything, I want to address some key areas. I will post one blog and one accompanying video on the following facets of screen addiction that I see in my counseling practice: addiction to pornography, addiction to social media, addiction to video gaming, and addiction to entertainment streaming (like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime). Each has its own unique problems, and in some ways they all have overlapping problems.

My goal in sharing this information with you is that you feel empowered as a parent to refocus your family on what is most important. I want you to know you’re in the right when you work towards reconnecting with your teenager; you’re in the right when you help your adolescent live a well-rounded life. I want to see your teen hanging out with friends, engaging with the family, passionately pursuing indoor and outdoor hobbies, and learning how to use the internet to support your teen’s God-given purpose instead of having it as your teen’s sole purpose.

Helping teens grow and families improve connection,

Cameron Munholland, MMFT, Associate MFT