Kids cravings – addicted to gadgets

May 18, 2009 at 12:45 pm Leave a comment

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I have just come across a social experiment, ‘Teenagers try to go without gadgets’ that, as a parent, has added to concerns I have for my kids.

For any parent this is real food for thought and an aspect of addiction to technology that is not focussed on games addiction. It is, though, more worryingly focussed on the potential general addiction of young people to their everyday gadgets – mobile phones, mp3 players, i-pods, social networking sites, TV et al.

It is an experiment that was conducted amongst teenagers in Los Angeles who went without their electronic gadgets for a week. The results are worrying and illuminating. The teenagers themselves recognised their addiction, recognised that the uncomfortable feelings they were experiencing were akin to, or were actually, withdrawal symptoms.

One teenager talked of feeling empty, one described being without her gadgets as ‘being’ weird, one that it was harder than she thought, one described her desire to reach out for her mobile phone as a ‘craving’.

Part way one described feeling ‘at peace’ without any music blasting in the background, or TV or phone. One celebrated the fact that she met new people on the metro because she was not absorbed in texting etc.., and she also heard birds singing outside. One that whilst reading in her room she realised she could hear the crickets outside and the wind blowing.

I remember a few months ago when my 14 year old daughter had to do without her mobile phone for a few days whilst it was being repaired. She described her felling to me of it feeling a bit like having lost a limb. She was seriously uncomfortable without it.

I also remember one day when I took a day off work during school half term and spent it with both my kids (11 and 14) all hanging out together at home. We did a bit of baking together, some painting of egg cups, chatted, all things that have become sadly too rare in a household of working parents and electronic communication.

The interesting thing that I noted was how relaxed the kids seemed because there was no peer pressure on them, how my daughter went without any make up for the day (usually unheard of), how neither of them niggled at each other, as though this was a momentary respite from the charged world they have become used to.

I have tended to feel that addiction happens mostly on the fringes. Now I’m worried I may be wrong about that.

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Entry filed under: Gadgets, Kids, video games, Young people.

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Mick Landmann on education, digital technology, and the 21st century

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