More and more, healthcare, law and education professionals are using the phrase “technology addiction”. We live in an age where people are never without some type of electronic device. From televisions to telephones, people are constantly plugged in. The children of today would be totally lost with the party lines and three station black and white televisions some of us knew as children. CBS News reported that brain scans of men and women who were diagnosed with Internet addiction were similar to scans of people who were addicted to alcohol, cocaine and other drugs. It may be years before we know the long-term effect of technology addiction on our children.

Many are already seeing changes that are cause for concern. Doctors are seeing an increase of overweight children and children who are having trouble sleeping. Teachers are seeing a decrease in social skills, active play and attention spans. With the ability to google questions instead of researching problems, children and teens get instant answers, which they quickly forget. Long-term learning and memory are disappearing. Law enforcement officers are dealing with cyberbullying and an increase in violent crime. Diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder has increased over the last ten years.

Children and teens don’t know how to be bored. Look around the restaurant the next time you eat out. Two and three year old children who are not supposed to sit quietly at the dinner table will be glued to the screen of a tablet while waiting on their food. They miss the opportunity to learn patience and that there are some things we have to wait for.

One person who counsels children and teens said that today’s youth are the “most informed generation, but the loneliest.” They may have thousands of “friends” on social media, yet when they are asked to name their friends, they struggle to answer the question.

Not all technology is bad. Researchers have found that the happiest youth are those who have a moderate amount of screen time each day. The key is for parents to be informed and in control.

Dr. King and I are working on a panel discussion on “Digital Dangers” to be held during two joint Sunday School Sessions in the fall. In the meantime, there are things that parents can do to make sure that technology is being used appropriately for their children.

· Children under 18 months should have no screen time at all.
· There should be parental controls on all electronics.
· Know all of your child’s passwords.
· Set up behavioral expectations and enforce them.
· Do not allow children to play video games that are inappropriate for their age. Popular games like Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto have an “M” rating for a reason.
· Be aware of apps that will send you alerts when your child visits an inappropriate site or receives an inappropriate message.

There will be more information about “Digital Dangers” soon. I hope that all of you will be able to attend.