web analytics
August 30, 2015 / 15 Elul, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post


Is My Child An Addict?

Schild-Edwin

Josh is only nine years old, yet he’s an addict.  How is that possible? You’re wondering where he gets his drugs from, how does his addiction manifest itself and if there are treatment plans.

I’ll answer all of those questions, but first let me explain that Josh is not addicted to drugs, but rather to technology – an addiction that is becoming more common as our technological advancements improve.

Today, children of all ages have easy access to smartphones and tablets – and most libraries have free WiFi.

Technology addiction is still an addiction, but not the kind most of us think of.  There is a fine, though discernible, line between an addiction and a passion.  In fact, any passion can become an addiction.  In a recent conversation with a colleague, it became clear that there is a lot of denial when to comes to this type of addiction, but we are seeing more children missing school, disassociating from their peers and displaying aggressive behavior.  When children begin to play violent games at a young age, the violence they are exposed to becomes the norm.

Let me tell you about Josh.  His behavioral issues extend beyond addictions, as is so often the case.  In fact, we often have to ask if the addiction is causing the behaviors or do the behaviors lead to an addictive personality.  Josh is nine years old and the younger son of a single mother.  Josh’s mother is limited in her ability to mother her children and they take advantage of her weaknesses. Josh disappears for hours at a time; he spends his time using a computer in the library or at friends’ homes. He is usually alone and vulnerable when he roams the neighborhood to and from his destination.  Nevertheless, Josh doesn’t think about that, his only focus is getting back to a computer.  Working with these types of children is difficult, but we can use the years of research and experience with drug addictions to help families.

The first thing we have to understand is that parents are enablers: We begin with the premise that we love our children.  Therefore, we will do anything to protect them when we see danger in their paths.  Over the past 38 years of working with parents and children, I have learned that we are not good at teaching them how to make good decisions – probably because no one ever taught us.  We just assume it comes naturally. The focus here is not on teenagers, but on children as young as those in pre-school.  While for the most part children at this age need to have decisions made for them, they need to be taught how the decision-making process works. Otherwise, we raise dependent children who do not know the intricacies of problem solving.

The second thing is knowing that we cannot fix everything.  We love our children and so we want to make everything better for them.  However, the stronger the addiction, the more the addict closes his mind to outside help.  When that happens we get angry and frustrated.  It’s important to remember that only the addict can take the necessary steps to fix what is wrong.  And professional help is a must; objective outsiders have a much easier time getting the addict child to cooperate.  Nevertheless, there are things parents can do – before the problem gets out of control.

First, whatever technological devices the child is using cannot be used in his or her room, only in the public areas.  Two, show an interest in what he or she is doing; ask him or her to show you how it works, what he or she is doing and why it’s so interesting.   The benefits are twofold: You get to see what he or she is doing and get to spend time with a child who may need extra attention.  Three, be sure the device is age appropriate.

The third thing we have to remember is that an addict is a liar. Addicts will say anything to hide their addiction and take any action to mask the problem.  In my opinion, most of the time they don’t even realize they are lying, they just say whatever they think we want to hear. The problem is we are wired to hate lying and liars, which causes us to react as soon as we realize we are being lied to.  We get angry, disappointed, frustrated, etc.  We have to learn to look behind the lying.  In most cases the child is suffering from low self-esteem, feels guilty and doesn’t know how to handle being caught in a lie.  When confronting the child, it’s best to not get into a debate, but simply say, “My eyes see what I see and my ears hear much better than my eyes.” Arguments of right and wrong, using or not using never go anywhere productive.  Confrontations in the midst of strong emotions are also doomed to failure.

The fourth thing is scary: Is my child a criminal?  Of course, the answer is dependent on what the child is doing. Is he doing something illegal?  Is he making purchases online without your consent and maybe even using your credit card without permission?  Is cyber bulling involved in his activities?  Like Josh, is the child missing for long periods of time and putting himself in compromising safety situations?

The fifth thing is asking whether your child is losing friends:  Addiction to technology, whether the child is using a computer, tablet or cell phone, often results in him or her becoming more isolated and spending less time socializing with others.  This is a problem at any age, as children learn by socializing and spending time with adults and their peers.

The sixth is noticing that the child is getting very little physical activity.  Lack of outdoor activities and play with other children prevents necessary social skills from being learned.  In addition, childhood obesity is an increasing problem. That being said, video games can occasionally be educational, fun and exciting. In fact, gaming can improve eye-hand coordination and may foster positive social interactions when played with other children. It also allows children with little athletic interest or ability to compete and form friendships with like-minded gamers.  Once again, technology isn’t innately bad, but the amount of time spent using it needs to be controlled.

Research has shown that children spend, on average, close to an hour a day playing games.  This number increases drastically if a child’s video-game console is in his or her bedroom. As we said, parents need to do what’s appropriate for the child’s age and ask themselves if they are relying too much on handheld games to keep their children quiet during long car trips or on long, unstructured days.

Another factor is that children with certain disorders, like those with ADHD, are attracted to video games.  A child who’s bothered by distractibility in the real world may be capable of intense focus, or hyper-focus, while playing. And hyperactivity is not a problem: a child can hold the controllers and stand or pace back and forth in front of the TV as he plays.

Obviously we have only just begun a discussion.  There are many factors at play when a child uses technology as either an escape or a means to gain some sense of expertise to build self-esteem.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

One Response to “Is My Child An Addict?”

  1. It's too bad video-games, the most immersive and engaging of all the artistic mediums, can't be used more for education and training. With that said, we're only a couple generations away from having something almost as immersive as The Matrix but with a focus on fantasy and gratification, it will be far more addictive than any drug because it will feed so many appetites.

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Rabbi Norman Lamm of Yeshiva University
Emes Ve-Emunah: Living Up to the Ideals of Modern Orthodoxy
Latest Sections Stories
book-Lord-Get-Me-High

Even when our prayers are ignored and troubles confront us, Rabbi Shoff teaches that it is the same God who sent the difficulties as who answered our prayers before.

Schonfeld-logo1

I’ve put together some of the most frequently asked questions regarding bullies, friendship and learning disabilities.

book-Avi's-Choice

His parents make it clear that they feel the right thing is for Avi to visit his grandfather, but they leave it up to him.

There is a rich Jewish history in this part of the world. Now the hidden customs are being revealed, as many seek to reconnect with their roots.

There are times when a psychiatrist will over-medicate, which is why it’s important to find a psychiatrist whom you trust and feel comfortable with.

On November 22, 1963, Abraham Zapruder created one of the most famous, and valuable, pieces of film and became forever linked with one of the greatest American national tragedies when he stood with his camera on an elevated concrete abutment as President John F. Kennedy’s motorcade passed through Dealey Plaza in Dallas. Exhibited here is […]

“Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength – carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” – Corrie ten Boom I’ve been thinking a lot about worrying. Anxiety is an issue close to my heart – […]

Don’t be afraid to try something different.

Upon meeting the Zionist delegation, General Wu, a recent convert to Christianity, said, “You are my spiritual brothers.

With the assistance of Mr. Tress, Private Moskowitz tried tirelessly to become an army chaplain.

Dr. Yael Respler is taking a well-deserved vacation this week and asked Eilon Even-Esh to share some thoughts with her readers in her stead.

More Articles from Edwin Schild
Schild-Edwin

Interestingly, sometimes people who have a very high self-awareness may experience intense reactions to circumstances that others might respond to more mildly.

Schild-Edwin

We define stress as the feeling we get when there is too much to do and too little time to do it in.

I’d like to share some valuable insights that, with clear and meaningful understanding, will have a tremendous impact on our family’s future

Josh is only nine years old, yet he’s an addict. How is that possible? You’re wondering where he gets his drugs from, how does his addiction manifest itself and if there are treatment plans.

often find myself telling clients, “There is no such thing as emotions!” Then I wait for their reactions. My hope is that the client will challenge me, as obviously we all experience emotions. It’s the way we are wired.

In Part I talked about celebrating 30 years of Regesh Family and Child Services providing services to children, teens and families. I shared the agency’s origin and the many lessons I have learned through this journey. As I mentioned, it is my hope that my experiences will add to your toolbox of life skills.

As I look back, it is clear that I learned much as an administrator and therapist – and as an individual experiencing life. I hope you will stay with me as I reminisce.

I know what you are thinking. What possible situation could cause a professional to advise a parent to “Pray hard that your children ignore you”?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/parenting-our-children/is-my-child-an-addict/2014/02/28/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: