What is the treatment for Teenagers with Technology Addiction?

Technology has been on the rise for decades. It seems that every few months there is something new on the market. Teenagers find this exciting. They want the latest and greatest in technology. But, with all the innovations in technology teenagers are experiencing technology addiction.

According to the Child Mind Institute, spending two-thirds or more of one’s free time engrossed in a phone, computer, tablet, or tv can be problematic. This behavior is most likely masking deeper issues like anxiety or depression.

Technology addiction treatment for teenagers is available. The first step is admitting there is a problem. Teens, along with their parents, need to understand why the addiction is happening. What are the underlying causes?

Specific treatments are available for families. Treatments for technology addiction include ways to help the brain’s feel-good center activate when doing something that does not require technology. These treatments include therapies using various objects and actions. They include:

  • Family, group, or individual therapy
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)
  • Cognitive behavior therapy
  • Art therapy
  • Equine therapy
  • Recreation therapy
  • Reality therapy

Individual or group therapy is used to help teens and their families address the underlying causes of their technology addiction. Teens can express themselves and their reasons for using their phones or computers. Families can directly address the needs of their teen.

Dialectical and cognitive behavior therapies are similar. Dialectical therapy focuses on helping patients to accept who they are. For teens this is important. Teens who can  better understand and accept who they are, tend to function better at home and in school. They understand that they are capable and will be confident in their own skin. Cognitive behavior therapy focuses on changing unhealthy behaviors. Teens can learn how to digest hard moments without diving into their phones or other devices.

Art, equine, and recreation therapies are helpful ways for teens to learn how to express their emotions without posting them on social media. They have calming effects on the brain and can lead teens to have more self-confidence and esteem.

Reality therapy is not new to the treatment of addiction. It was developed in 1965 by William Glasser and can be quite useful in treating technology addiction. Reality  treatment consists of making choices that enable a person to meet all five psychological needs. When a teen is addicted to technology, then some need is not being met. With this therapy, they can recognize the need and find alternate ways to meet that need.

In some cases, therapy is combined with medication to treat depression and anxiety.

Is Technology Addiction Treatment for Teenagers Effective?

Technology addiction is almost unavoidable. Most devices are designed to be handheld and computers are now portable. All we have to do is pull them out and instantly we are connected to the world. It would seem there is no way to separate one’s self from technology. So if technology is unavoidable, then how effective can treatment be?

Treatments for technology addiction in teens are designed to enable them to make better choices. Cognitive behavior therapy aids teens in decision-making while under stress. Teens face issues that can be life-altering. They are pushed to make the grades, wear the latest styles, and look a certain way. These stressors can lead to depression and anxiety.

For teens, the escape from stress is an electronic device. They can play their favorite game and forget how hard the real world is. Combating this may seem impossible, but it’s not. Studies are showing various therapies to be quite effective.

Psychologists have agreed that technology treatment for teenagers is not about taking away their devices. It is about uncovering the ‘why’ in their addiction. Through the use of therapy and sometimes antidepressants, they are seeing positive results.

Technology is all around us and teenagers are at a critical stage in life. They need affirmation in some form and technology is an easy answer. To treat this effectively, parents need to understand what causes their teen to run to a device instead of to them. Therapy is a way to get your teen talking to you and not a stranger on the Internet.

Often we hear parents say, “my teen is addicted to technology”. When we hear this, we have to wonder, is their help effective? As shown above, there is help out there. While their is no treatment that insures a cure, the efficacy of treatments available are quite good. Therapy can teach them how to make better choices when faced with unfamiliar territory. If your teen is suffering from depression or anxiety, medication can be helpful.

The takeaway for parents with teens addicted to technology is that it is most likely a sign of something else. There are underlying causes that can effectively be treated and enable teens to gain a healthy relationship with technology.