Experts say that the time spent on social media can be just as addictive to teenage children as any drug or alcohol, and they believe we should treat it as such. At an education conference in London, rehab clinic specialist Mandy Saligard spoke to teachers about this issue. She says that screen time seems to be overlooked as a vehicle in addiction for these young people.
“I always say to people, when you’re giving your kid a tablet or a phone, you’re really giving them a bottle of wine or a gram of coke,” “Why do we pay so much less attention to those things than we do to drugs and alcohol when they work on the same brain impulses?” she said.
A third of British children between the ages of 12 and 15, admit to an imbalance in screen time and other activities. “When people tend to look at addicti
on, their eyes tend to be on the substance or thing – but really it’s a pattern of behavior that can manifest itself in a number of different ways,” Mandy says. Especially concerning, is the number of young teenagers that seem to be sending and receiving inappropriate photographs, or ev
en having access to pornographic content through their phones. Which is creating an early development of sexual addiction, something that is seen more frequently in Mandy’s rehab facilities. “So many of my clients are 13 and 14 year-old-girls who are involved in sexting, and describe sexting as ‘completely normal’” cries Mandy.
Being that social media, and acceptance from peers online releases the same endorphins in the brain as most drugs, teenagers are becoming addicted in many different ways. Ways that were never explored before, so com
ing up with a solution needs to be sought out in a new way. Experts say that possibly emphasizing the importance of sleep to teenagers or parents creating digital curfews at home. Although these efforts will not be met with respect and honor, as children consider their phones another necessary extremity.
Another great idea proposed was that there would be more time away from their phones promoted at school. Catching the problem early is the key to solving it. Teaching children to self-regulate their usage is sure fire way to show them without policing them. All they need to do is see that there is possibilities of enjoyment in both time on the screen, and off.