Screen Dependence

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Screen dependence is becoming more and more present in today’s technological age.  Dr. David Greenfield says, “Internet and portable devices have a healthy role to play in our information age. However, the very nature of the internet also lends itself to overuse and abuse, encouraging behaviors that are counter productive, isolating and disruptive to ourselves, our families, and community.”

As a result of this technology overload, more and more addictions are becoming present, such as video game addiction, social media addiction, and internet gambling addiction.

In order to minimize the risk of these addictions developing, it is important to set boundaries with technology, such as not allowing electronic devices at the dinner table, during family time, or while driving.  Consequently, overuse of technology by adults in the household can also lead to distracted parenting and low family connection. Children that suffer from screen dependence often act differently when they are away from a screen. They often are:

  • Uninterested
  • Bored
  • Distracted
  • Disengaged
  • Moody
  • Disconnected
  • Surly
  • Irritable
  • Alerted
  • Agitated
  • Awkward

Often, children and adolescents exhibiting these symptoms may have pre-existing mental health disorders. If not, symptoms can be explained by screen dependence alone. Unfortunately, parents often respond to these behaviors by withdrawing.

The prevalence of problematic internet use among children and adolescents is between 4% and 8%, and up to 8.5% of US youth 8 to 18 years of age meet criteria for Internet Gaming Disorder (Media Use in School Aged Children). There are, however, steps a parent can take for a child that is developing a screen dependence:

  • Counseling support to intervene and support
  • School collaboration and improvement plan
  • Family values, behavior and screen use plan
  • Child and family healthy activity plan
  • Seeking a balanced “Digital Diet”

Dr. Kimberly Young from The Center for Internet Addiction encourages aiming for a healthy “digital diet.”  Steps towards a healthy “digital diet” can include:

  1. Check Your Checking
  2. Manage Time Usage
  3. Disconnect to Reconnect

If you think you or your child are developing or suffering from screen dependence, call and schedule an appointment to start the healing process and begin restoring your relationships.


Media Use in School-Aged Children and Adolescents: Pediatrics, Nov 2016, Volume 138 Issue 5

Original Presentation by: Mark Mortier, MA, LPC, MAC