Parents put their babies in front of television and tablet screens to entertain and “babysit” them. Parents and teachers believe children can advance their knowledge through computer “learning systems.” Parents surrender to the pressure from their preadolescent daughters for smartphones so they can text their friends and share activities through social media. Children spend hours at their computers and tablets absorbed in online role-playing and video games.
The problem is these children can easily become lifetime addicts to their virtual worlds. Notice the bent heads of children with their families in restaurants; they are not saying grace. Check out kids in buses and the back seats of cars; how many are looking out the windows or talking to each other?
Listen for that faint buzzing sound in movie theaters, and watch the Pavlovian response of children who cannot resist answering voice and text messages no matter when or where they are.
Dr. Nicholas Kardaras is an expert in addiction and rehabilitation. He paints a chilling picture of the futures of these children in his book “Glow Kids.” He operates rehabilitation centers for drug and alcohol addiction. The problem with “screen addiction” is there is no way to eliminate the “substance” from their environment; tech stimulations are everywhere, waiting for the addicts to notice and return to them.
The trance induced by these addictions is powerful; people can spend hours at the screen and be totally unaware of the passage of time or the events that happen around them; their lives have been hijacked, and that part of their lives is gone.
Social media addicts get emotionally engaged with people they never met, pictures of somebody’s lunch, and silent “verbal” exchanges. When I was growing up, if someone teased me or called me names, I was taught to say, “sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”, or “I’m rubber, you’re glue, whatever you say bounces off of me and sticks to you.”, or “so are you.” It really worked for me (except when sticks or stones, or fists or feet were actually employed. THAT was what we called bullying;).
Now, kids are committing suicide in response to slurs or embarrassments. Why would they do that? Think about it; no physical harm was done; a normal person would not react that way; it must be psychological; they would have to be addicts to respond that strongly to “cyberbullying.” Not knowing about the addiction leaves most adult, non-addicts perplexed about what to do. Instead of rehabbing and strengthening the psyche of the addict target, we try to outlaw bullying; what a thankless, futile waste of energy and time when dealing with children at that stage of development.
I defer to the experts on what to do and not do, but reading this book would not hurt your understanding of this problem.