10 Signs That Your Teen Has a Screen Addiction

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If you think your child has a gaming problem, he does.

Are you a mom or dad wondering if video game addiction is real? We meet families every week who are struggling with how to balance technology use with their children and teens. Many are on the edge of seeing addiction symptoms in their own kids lives yet have gone to a counselor who has told them that video game addiction is not a real thing. To those families, I want to assure you that those feelings are there for a reason and you are not alone. Don’t be confused by some popular counselors, gaming (and porn) addictions are real and they are hurting our kids.

One local local counselor, Erik Goldfield, has helped many families through screen addictions. He has described this very real problem below and believes that all families need to be aware of it.

The New Face of Addiction

Decades ago addiction was once personified by addicts and their drugs of choice; narcotics, alcohol and opioids. Today, addiction is something else. It’s a global brand. It’s porn, gambling and video games, all just one click of a button away. The new face of addiction is not the dad that sneaks off at night to have a round of beers or whiskey at the local pub, but your son who glosses over thousands of sex scenes every day on the computer.

Our brains are meant to deal with positive reinforcement in gradual terms, not immediate. The age old expression, “If you work hard for something, it’s more rewarding” is essentially true, in the sense that our dorsal striatum (brain’s reward system) becomes more highly stimulated when it has been 1. anticipating something for a long while, and 2. not reinforced on a regular and constant basis. Countless studies, including one performed by the University Of Cambridge (2014), indicate that the gray matter area and reward center of the brain in people who play video games several hours a day, and/or watch porn for at least an hour per day, are nearly identical to those of long time opioid, narcotic and alcohol addicts. People who play video games several hours a day and/or watch porn the same amount have a higher tolerance and greater need for this continued behavior to achieve the same “high." Every time you click a button on your video game controller your brain is reinforced. This constant reinforcement, (especially seen in fighting and first person shooter games) creates a tolerance to any positive stimulation. People who play video games for hours and then experience something positive afterward may not even process it as positive at all, and become “mind numb” to external stimuli. (University of Cambridge. (2014, July 11). Brain activity in sex addiction mirrors that of drug addiction. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 11, 2016 from sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140711153327.htm)

With modern day technology, parents have to become ever more vigilant in monitoring their child’s usage. A recent national survey done in December of 2015 indicated that 97 percent of boys and 62 percent of girls had watched porn before the age of 18. While overexposure with girls was less common, over 80 percent of the boys had become what researchers classified as “addicted” in that they watched at least once a day thereafter. The highly addictive components of porn, combined with how readily accessible it is, has put teenagers and even adolescents at risk. Click-click, bang-bang video games, click-click masturbate with porn, and surges of dopamine have now created an addict. Our generation’s new face of addiction isn’t a middle-aged man with a five o’clock shadow beard and dark circles under his eyes, it’s a teenager; staring at a screen.

Some signs that someone you love may be addicted to either video games or porn are:

  • Give countless excuses why they can’t get off their video game system when asked
  • Are reluctant to part with their phone for any length of time
  • Spend hours alone in their room isolated from social interaction
  • Lying to friends or family about the amount of time spent playing
  • Preoccupied thoughts and conversations about playing or watching porn
  • No past history in internet browser due to deletion
  • Feelings or irritability when unable to play or be in front of the computer
  • Inability to stop watching porn despite past negative consequences
  • Increased amount of time playing video games or wanting to be in front of the computer
  • Loss of interest in personal or social relationships.

If someone you know displays more than one or two of these symptoms, there is a good chance they are addicted to porn and/or video games. If you need more information contact info@familiesmanagingmedia.com or Erik Goldfield, South Charlotte Family Counseling or 704-807-6555.

Addictions don’t start over night and addictions that start in childhood can become much stronger as they more difficult to reverse as the child grows. If you feel that your child has a problem with gaming overuse, he does. Seek help and be confident that you intuition is serving you well, you are not alone.

Continue the discussion with your teen. Don't miss a life changing Charlotte event, Thursday, August 31, 2017, with nationally acclaimed speaker, author, psychologist, Tom Kersting, who will explore the mental and emotional effects of screens on teens. You will leave with strategies to help your child thrive in the real world balancing screen habits and healthy relationships. Parents and teens are welcome. Limited seating available. Get your tickets today! Visit familiesmanagingmedia.com.