What is "Internet/Technology Addiction"?

Technology overuse (internet, video games, phones, tablets, television) is one of the most common issues brought up by parents of children and teens I have worked with. Before we discuss what to do, we need to discuss misconceptions about the problem.

Why is "Internet/Technology Addiction" in quotes?
All forms of technology overuse are not recognized as actual diagnoses of mental conditions the way that Major Depressive Disorder, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and many others are recognized by the medical and mental health community. To this point, research has not supported the idea of a specific diagnosable condition, and as such, technology overuse in any form does not appear in the 5th Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5, 2013), which is the American standard used by trained mental health and medical professionals to diagnose mental health conditions. 

What does that mean for helping my child/teen who won't stop playing Clash of Clans/Minecraft/Terraria/XBOX/Playstation/Runescape etc.?
While technology overuse is not specifically recognized as a specific diagnosis, it is a behavior that can be modified in the context of psychotherapy and parental support and change. It may also be a behavior related to a diagnosable condition. I strongly believe in empowering parents to affect change in their child's technology use through clear and regular communication, and consistent limit setting with consistent consequence application. That being said, I cannot overstate how essential it is for parents to become aware that successful collaboration between all parties will almost certainly require changes from parents themselves on limit setting, enforcement, communication, understanding, and even in their own technology use habits.

Is there a standard limit on "screen time" for my child or teen? 
Yes - The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) encourages parents to limit the screen time of children and teens to no more than 1-2 hours per day, and that young children under 2 years old not be exposed to screen time. You can read more from the AAP on screen time limits here

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