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from the West Wing

Here’s the latest installment from Dr. Charles Fay of the Love and Logic Institute on technology and kids. Enjoy.

The Root Causes of Technology Addiction

At Love and Logic, our focus has always been to provide simple, down-to-earth strategies for raising happy and well-behaved kids. As such, we don’t typically spend much time describing the scientific research behind these strategies.

I’d like to make an exception this week. I’d like to summarize a body of research that gets directly to the heart of why some kids (and adults) become so addicted to technology that their lives begin to fall apart.

The problem…and the solution…have relatively nothing to do with technology…and everything to do with relationships.

The bottom line:

People at risk for developing these problems feel so badly about themselves, and their lives, that they will do anything to escape into a world where they feel competent, powerful and liked.

For example, researchers Kwon, Chung and Lee found that those at highest risk score high on the following variables:

Escape from Self

The child believes that they don’t measure up. Compared to the perceived standards of their parents, peers, school, self, or world, they feel inadequate, unattractive, or responsible for everything that goes wrong.

Negative Mood

Severe anxiety and depression are the logical result of a child believing that they’re worthless.

Perceived Parent Hostility/Lack of Affection

Loving relationships matter! Kids at risk for escape from self and depression believe that they can’t do anything to please their parents: “Nothing I do is good enough.”

Low Parental Supervision

Lack of supervision communicates lack of valuing: “My parents don’t even care enough about me to wonder where I am, who I’m with, or what I’m doing.”

Lack of Supportive Peer Relationships

When kids lack the skills to develop and maintain positive peer relationships, a vicious cycle develops: Lack of friends = Negative Mood = Negative Behavior = More Negative Mood

While practical limits and accountability are always essential, lasting solutions require that we help all children feel competent, loved unconditionally, and capable of enjoying positive peer relationships.

For those who enjoy reading research articles, see:

Kwon, J., Chung, C. & Lee, J. (2011). The Effects of Escape from Self and Interpersonal Relationship on the Pathological Use of Internet Games. Community Mental Health Journal, 47:113–121

Dr. Charles Fay

Thanks for reading,

Mrs. West