Are you addicted to your screen devices?

November 26, 2013

Yes, it's all fun, and incredibly convenient, but there comes a point when devices meant to simplify your life can actually be ruining it.

Every new technology seems to put a new screen right in front of our faces, requiring more and more of time, and more and more attention. And for some, what was a matter of convenience, has now become a matter of compulsion.

It is called "Screen addiction" -- yes, it has a name -- and it is already widely recognized as a problem in Australia, Korea, China, and Taiwan.

"It's not just about Internet use, it's about any screen kind of device," says Dr. Kimberly Young from the Center for Internet Addiction.

We spoke to Dr. Kimberly Young, by Skype, about what she calls a growing problem.

Dr. Young has created the country's first ever in-patient recovery center for Internet Addiction at the Bradford Regional Medical Center in Western Pennsylvania.

"All this technology has sort of inundated us, and there is a real problem with young people going online," she said.

Hence the big push to stop texting and driving; 41 states and the District of Columbia have enacted texting bans.

"Screen addiction" came into clear focus during an alarming incident last month on a train in San Francisco. So focused on their phones, not one of the passengers noticed a man holding a gun in plain sight until he shot someone.

"We really need to start there with getting people to recognize how much we are using the technology and what kind of ramifications are associated with it. Are we creating a society of people who socially can't cope because we are relying on this technology at earlier ages?" she said.

Dr. Jesse Suh of Penn's Center for Studies of Addiction agrees.

"It is really trying to figure out how to find a balance in your life," said Dr. Suh.

There is a test you can take that will rank your usage level.

The higher your score the more problematic your internet use has become and could potentially be affecting your relationships, work or school.

Dr. Suh believes parents especially should be watching for signs in their children.

"They could be spending so much time and they may not be old enough to recognize that this could be a problem," he said.

He suggests that families employ a "no screen" rule during certain parts of the day, like at dinner, or evening hours.

"Certainly find two hours out of your day to look, play a game, but also make sure there is a time you are able to spend time with your friends, families or focus on your work," said Dr. Suh.

The test takes no more than 5 minutes to take. Click on the link below to seen how you rate.

Treatment is an extreme solution, but sometimes just self-awareness is enough. The test could help you figure out how much is too much.


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