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Children As Young As 13 Attending 'Smartphone Rehab' As Concerns Grow Over Screen Time (independent.co.uk) 152

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Independent: Children refusing to put down their phones is a common flashpoint in many homes, with a third of British children aged 12 to 15 admitting they do not have a good balance between screen time and other activities. But in the U.S., the problem has become so severe for some families that children as young as 13 are being treated for digital technology addiction. One "smartphone rehab" center near Seattle has started offering residential "intensive recovery programs" for teenagers who have trouble controlling their use of electronic devices. The Restart Life Center says parents have been asking it to offer courses of treatment to their children for more than eight years. Hilarie Cash, the Center's founder, told Sky News smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices can be so stimulating and entertaining that they "override all those natural instincts that children actually have for movement and exploration and social interaction."
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Children As Young As 13 Attending 'Smartphone Rehab' As Concerns Grow Over Screen Time

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  • by Blinkin1200 ( 917437 ) on Friday April 14, 2017 @11:47PM (#54238341)

    Sounds like their parents aren't parents, they are just the tallest people in the room.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The parents are rich enough to afford children. Which means they're millionaire jet setters who are busy every moment of their lives advertising their own narcissism on their blogs to earn the money they deserve to be paid for existing. They don't have any time to raise children.

      • by lucm ( 889690 )

        They could do like Marissa Mayer and rent people to take care of their kids, even though they work 10 feet from them.

      • by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Saturday April 15, 2017 @04:19AM (#54238937) Homepage

        I wonder how much "smartphone rehab" costs?

        (as opposed, to, I dunno, just smashing/shooting the phone in front of them if the first couple of talks/slaps don't work)

        • I wonder how much "smartphone rehab" costs?

          (as opposed, to, I dunno, just smashing/shooting the phone in front of them if the first couple of talks/slaps don't work)

          I wonder how much risk is involved with simply ripping the heroin needle out of the addicts arm (as opposed, to, I dunno, proper rehabilitation...)

          Addiction is powerful no matter what created it. So much so that humans have killed other humans in order to get a fix.

          • by sheramil ( 921315 ) on Saturday April 15, 2017 @06:54AM (#54239211)
            consider the difference between addiction and habituation. being addicted to morphine is different to being too lazy to find any other avenues of entertainment or socializing than snapchat or twitter.
            • consider the difference between addiction and habituation. being addicted to morphine is different to being too lazy to find any other avenues of entertainment or socializing than snapchat or twitter.

              Uh, too lazy?

              I challenge you to approach the average teenager and force them to shut down all of their social media accounts and confiscate their smartphone in order to "go outside and play". See how their behavior is categorized as mere laziness or boredom.

              Habitual behavior is often a clear sign of addiction.

            • Addiction is mostly about getting that dopamine hit, and anything that can trigger it can become addictive. In most of life, that hit is moderated by something -- eating has fullness, playing and exploring have physical fatigue, and repeating the same thing over and over (even sex) becomes boring after a while. Addiction can happen when there's little or no moderating factors. Addictive substances continue to provide a hit no matter what (although it may take increasing quantities to achieve the same res

          • But we're not talking in such simple, pedestrian terms. Addiction can be psychological, physiological, or both. What we're discussing here is a psychological addiction which is manifested in poor impulse control. As such, a parent could remove the device without being an asshole ammosexual while still reaching the intended result. Worked for my 4 year old and my 13 year old. Now screen time is moderated and all device cameras are disabled.

            BTW, people killing over poor impulse control (taking a cell phone aw

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The parents are rich enough to afford children. Which means they're millionaire jet setters who are busy every moment of their lives advertising their own narcissism on their blogs to earn the money they deserve to be paid for existing. They don't have any time to raise children.

        Chances are they were feeding their fucking narcissism well before becoming a parent. If you're not going to put in the effort to raise a child properly, then do the world a favor and don't fucking have them.

        • Well said!

        • If you're not going to put in the effort to raise a child properly, then do the world a favor and don't fucking have them.

          I agree with this fully, but there is one problem, a lot of people have different opinions on the best way of raising children, and no child will be compatible with every situation life throws at him/her, its just not possible outside of fiction.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      you mean i have to be their parent and not just their best friend?

      • Best friend? I was under the impression that my job's done by blowing a load of snot into some bitch.

        • Best friend? I was under the impression that my job's done by blowing a load of snot into some bitch.

          Snot? Damn - that's gotta be close to a rule 34 exemption!

    • by sound+vision ( 884283 ) on Saturday April 15, 2017 @12:15AM (#54238429) Journal
      They are probably on their phones too.
    • Or they could just not be helicopter parents. Kids go off to school and are not under their parent's constant supervision.

      • by Imrik ( 148191 )

        If the kids are controlling their use at home, they aren't as addicted as the ones the article is talking about. If they aren't controlling their use at home, some parental supervision is warranted.

        • by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 ) on Saturday April 15, 2017 @08:43AM (#54239403)

          If the kids are controlling their use at home, they aren't as addicted as the ones the article is talking about. If they aren't controlling their use at home, some parental supervision is warranted.

          Yeah as soon as Daddy's off Facebook, and Mom is done playing Candy Crush.

          The smartphone is the perfect little device for today's families. It keeps the kids quiet, and many people have been so inculcated with safety culture that the parents are happy to keep the children inside the house, playing on their phone, instead of going out in the world, where the news cycle has everyone convinced us that as soon as the child steps outside, they will be molested, then kidnapped, then sold into sex traffic slavery, get hooked on meth, and finally be shot in a drive by. So the child may be a hundred pounds overweight, and never grow up to be an adult, but hey - they are safe.

          • by ravrazor ( 69324 )
            In the words of Homer Simpson: “Kids are the best; you can teach them to hate the things you hate. And they practically raise themselves, what with the internet and all.”
  • It gets worse (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 14, 2017 @11:52PM (#54238359)

    If they think it's bad at 12-15, just wait until that endless stream of messages and emails is coming from management outside of normal work hours, and they'll be looking for another job if they don't answer it.

    There's some very vested interest in keeping us hooked on these things.

    • Re:It gets worse (Score:5, Informative)

      by lucm ( 889690 ) on Saturday April 15, 2017 @12:05AM (#54238405)

      There's some very vested interest in keeping us hooked on these things.

      There's also some opposition to that, like in France where they banned work email after 6pm.

      http://www.bbc.com/news/magazi... [bbc.com]

      • by dbIII ( 701233 )
        Still doing the misinformation?
        It's not banned, just that people who are on the clock and do not have a contract that involves overtime, being on call etc can't be disciplined for not paying attention to email out of work time.
        • just that people who are on the clock and do not have a contract that involves overtime, being on call etc can't be disciplined for not paying attention to email out of work time.

          So its not banned they just can't do it. Thanks for clearing that up.

          • by Altrag ( 195300 )

            There's a pretty big difference: In your world, the company simply can't ask period. In the real world, they can ask but the employee is free to say no.

            The two are only equivalent if all employees say no all the time, or if the employer would be otherwise unable to restrain themselves from disciplining people for asserting their rights.

          • by dbIII ( 701233 )
            They can't do it unless they can.
            Dumbed down enough yet? Please sober up before you post.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Job? What's a job? I check my email once a week looking for all these rumored job offers I'm supposed to be getting but I never see any. I keep hearing other people talk about how they're swamped with emails from recruiters. The only possible conclusion I can reach is everyone is a liar. The tech industry must be some kind of elaborate hoax. The education system really scammed me good because I wasted a whole lot of tuition to earn a tech degree which is totally worthless because the tech industry doesn

      • by TWX ( 665546 )

        Or they just realized that you are a poor candidate and aren't bothering to respond to you.

      • I keep hearing other people talk about how they're swamped with emails from recruiters.

        I typically get 20+ emails and phone calls per day from recruiters even though I'm not circulating my resume. Then again, I have 800+ connections on LinkedIn to recruiters that I know over a 20+ year career.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          I keep seeing these posts by this "creimer" person who claims to be swamped with emails from recruiters. Then again, this "creimer" person also claims to earn $50k which is highly implausible if such demand exists for his services. The only possible conclusion I can reach is this "creimer" person is a troll.

          • I keep seeing these posts by this "creimer" person who claims to be swamped with emails from recruiters.

            Since I'm not actively looking for a job, I can pretty much ignore the 20+ emails and phone calls I get each day. If I was doing an active job search, I would be tracking up to 32 positions and talking to recruiters all day long. Now that's being swamped.

            Then again, this "creimer" person also claims to earn $50k which is highly implausible if such demand exists for his services.

            I'm a virtual ditch digger and $50K+ per year is the high end for this kind of work. Not everyone who works in Silicon Valley is a newly minted millionaire.

            The only possible conclusion I can reach is this "creimer" person is a troll.

            You're trolling me. Go play with someone else, troll.

    • Unfortunately there is no reception where I live. I will of course relocate at company expense, alas I can't afford the rent there. But if corporate covers my rent, we can talk.

      In other words, screw you. I work enough hours as it is, if you want more, pay for it.

    • "If they think it's bad at 12-15, just wait until that endless stream of messages and emails is coming from management outside of normal work hours"

      Coming soon - homework by text!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It was called Summer Camp.

    That was back when the only electrical devices allowed at camp were flashlights and cameras.

  • The problem is that the initial effort needed to engage in the internet is often far lower than the effort required to engage in non-internet interaction, not unlike certain native populations being exposed to a processed carbohydrate-rich diet.

    I have a bit of internet addiction myself, which I noticed when I was an undergrad. After moving on my own, I decided not to get the internet at home or on my phone. I noticed a vast improvement in my life, and I fear the increasingly richer content and easier access

  • by Hylandr ( 813770 ) on Saturday April 15, 2017 @02:13AM (#54238709)

    This behavior really hasn't changed since I was a child. My Dad bitched about how much TV I watched, or how much time I spent outside, or this thing or the other thing that was my passion at the time. Too much sports ( Expensive ) Not enough sports ( anti-social ) This tired old argument and the argument for drugging children into submission boils down to to the need for a false sense of control when parents feel out of control of their own lives or when money is tight.

    They need rehab from the Ritalin, Xanax and other psychotropic medication ( Drugs ). As a parent if I think the child has had too much 'device time' I will take it away. If they want it back they have to have their chores done. It works pretty well.

    Additionally, don't fight the desire your child has, it may be the passion that fuels his income when they are adults. Ever have that conversation with your child "What do you want to do when you grow up?" They are showing you. If you tell them that's not viable because all you see is the money you spend on it, you fail to see the money that they could be making from it. Instead as a society their desires are beaten from them and can only answer when asked what they plan on doing with their lives: "I don't know" ( Because I was told the thing I love is worthless because it cost you money )

    • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Saturday April 15, 2017 @03:58AM (#54238905)

      This behavior really hasn't changed since I was a child.

      This isn't some generalisation of parents bitching about their kids. It's an actual problem. There are people so incredibly addicted to certain things (smartphone included) that they start displaying withdrawal symptoms when separated.

      If your child uses their phone a lot, it's not a problem. If your child starts getting incredibly aggressive or freaking out at the thought of not having it that's a different story. If you go out and the phone gets left at home for the day and your child starts crying, throwing a tantrum, demanding everyone goes home, is agitated or agressive because they can't {insert phone thing like facebook here}, then you have a real problem.

      As a parent if you can remove your phone from your child as a form of mediation, then this isn't for you and your child doesn't need treatment for addiction.

      • by Hylandr ( 813770 )

        your child starts crying, throwing a tantrum, demanding everyone goes home, is agitated or aggressive

        Quelling this behavior is parenting 101. This is never allowed to fly from day one from any of my children. I have 8, and have been a parent for 24 years with the same wife. I think I am qualified when I call bullshit.

        • Quelling the behaviour early is. When it reaches addiction level your "traditional" parenting means shit. People do strange things when addicted to something.

          Good on you for being a good parent. Many people let this get out of control. Once it's out of control, simply taking the device is not the right answer.

          • by Hylandr ( 813770 )

            Once it's out of control, simply taking the device is not the right answer.

            I disagree. I have personal examples from other parents that have done just that and have been successful at it.

            Bottom line;
            I will remain skeptical of anyone offering a 'solution' for which they are getting paid to administer. What may not be a problem that cannot be solved with some parental resolve becomes amplified into a justification for paying money to 'treat'.

            90% of the time the parent gave the device to the child to begin with. They should take responsibility for making sure they are following the r

            • I disagree. I have personal examples from other parents that have done just that and have been successful at it.

              Psychologists in general disagree with you. Proper addiction treated by forcing cold turkey leads primarily to self harm, psychiatric problems and recidivism. This isn't some place that every man and their dog sends their children because they don't want to parent. Quite frankly your experiences and anecdotes are completely meaningless.

              90% of the time the parent gave the device to the child to begin with. They should take responsibility for making sure they are following the rules regarding it's use. I don't think that's unreasonable to expect.

              I agree and I never said it wasn't. Just when it eventually gets out of control you end up with an psychological addiction.

              • by Hylandr ( 813770 )

                Psychologists in general disagree with you.

                TBH there's more science in palmistry. I have spoken to many shrinks when I was a kid, and they always promise to help you just come back next week and leave your money with the receptionist.

                • Sorry you had a bad experience. Your experience is far from universal, however.

                  • by Hylandr ( 813770 )

                    I wish that were true. I was a Navy brat, and moved every three years whenever my dad was transferred to another duty station.

                    I quickly learned to see common patterns from one place to the next, and this was one of them.

          • Sure, take away the device. That will work until the school asks them to do research in class on their device or plays a game in class that is an online trivia game. They you have to give them their device.
          • by Altrag ( 195300 )

            There's also the fact that they're talking about teenagers. If you haven't quelled this problem long before 13 then either you've messed up as a parent and you probably need outside help, or your kid has an actual mental issue and you probably need outside help. Either way, its not likely something you'll be able to handle on your own, much as that's sometimes hard to admit to yourself.

            This isn't a 6 year old throwing a tantrum once in a while. This is a young adult showing the same addictive behaviors a

        • your child starts crying, throwing a tantrum, demanding everyone goes home, is agitated or aggressive

          Quelling this behavior is parenting 101. This is never allowed to fly from day one from any of my children. I have 8, and have been a parent for 24 years with the same wife. I think I am qualified when I call bullshit.

          So I'm not saying you're wrong (I'm not a parent and I haven't carefully considered how I would do so), but surely you must realize you're an (extreme) outlier and your experience doesn't necessarily apply to most people right? 8 kids over 24 years with the same wife is incredibly unusual, and I can think of several things off the top of my head that would apply to you and that situation that wouldn't apply to me.

          • by Hylandr ( 813770 )

            You have valid points that I cannot argue with. I am going to call myself incredibly lucky rather than skilled. My Family believes in God, and that lifestyle lends itself well to success in this area, but not always. I love my children, I love my Wife, and we have always managed to keep one parent at home to take care of my family. It's made things tough, but it looks like it's been a great investment in our family.

            It's never too late to correct. But you have to be consistent, and you have to explain why th

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The behavior has changed since you were a child.

      WWW internet had it's chance to make earth great again in the mid-late 90's. Now it is broken. Some even say it sucks.
      In the 2000's people started to clump together on mega-websites. Forget about making your own and talking to people 'live' about it.
      Later in the 2000's people started driving drunker than the drunkest drunk when smart phones started to bloom.
      Fast forward to today where people try to upload a 'self' to the internet because they are challenged to

    • A phone is way different than a TV. A phone is like a TV plus a computer with internet that comes with them to school. Apples to oranges.
    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      As a parent if I think the child has had too much 'device time' I will take it away. If they want it back they have to have their chores done. It works pretty well. (...) Additionally, don't fight the desire your child has, it may be the passion that fuels his income when they are adults.

      That's just ordinary parenting, teaching kids they can't do just the things they want to do. An addiction is a passion that's gone beyond something you want to do into something you feel you need to do like an obsession or compulsion and the rest of your life starts to revolve around getting back there. Like if you're a WoW addict life is about getting rid of all the "distractions" like school, friends, family, events and activities so you can spend more time in Azeroth. Some are functional addicts in that

    • by Applehu Akbar ( 2968043 ) on Saturday April 15, 2017 @10:16AM (#54239679)

      In the Triassic, when I grew up, there was exactly the same pearl-clutching about television. It was addictive, it kept the kids indoors, and all they could do was stare at it passively and in isolation. The only thing missing was describing the situation in the terminology of the drug rehabs that so many of today's parents have gone through.

      Because today's devices are at least interactive, tech-aware parents can show their kids the full potential of their devices: online interaction with their school friends, GPS for hiking, helping Mom navigate by car, Yelp for road trips, Pocket Universe to identify what they see in the night sky, step counters to quantify their physical activity, games that build various skills, and all the different search options that are available for finding out anything they want.

  • Before 'Screen Time' became a thing with smart phones, it existed with The Internet, Game Consoles, and TV. Trying to arbitrarily reduce screen time is not really solving the right problem.

    When this kind of issue starts to cause actual problems, you do not want to focus on minimizing screen time; You want to focus on maximizing activities that have either a social component, or that carries other benefits that contribute to general success in life.

    Teens between 13 and 15 years old have a combination of a ma

    • by dk20 ( 914954 ) on Saturday April 15, 2017 @06:13AM (#54239145)

      As a parent of three kids, I tend to agree with most of what you wrote.. but Smartphones are slighly different then say nintendo DS's of the past.

      How many times has some mindless zombie kid almost walked into you as they are walking and using their phone at the same time, clueless of their surroundings? i dont recall kids walking and playing their DS's.

      • by swb ( 14022 )

        I think some of the issues with smartphones is somehow tied to both the close proximity of the device and the fact that it involves an additional sensory interaction -- the touch screen, which I think is somehow different than a simple button.

        • No, it has to do with the fact that apps are scientifically made to be addictive. Analytics make it no different to modifying the chemical composure of tobacco so that people smoke more.
      • > How many times has some mindless zombie kid almost walked into you as they are walking and using their phone at the same time, clueless of their surroundings?

        When I was raising my kids, we had mindless zombie kids almost walking into you as they walked and read a book at the same time, clueless of their surroundings.

        What are they teaching kids these days? Back when I was growing up, you could minor in college in walking while reading.

      • i dont recall kids walking and playing their DS's.

        What were you doing that made you not pay attention to your surroundings to the extent that you missed this?

        • by dk20 ( 914954 )

          maybe.. but i dont recall it being nearly as ubiquitous as it is now with smartphones.

  • wtf is wrong with this world?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...Is all of these new things they're doing. Back in my day we did the current thing, and we were happy and well-adjusted. Sure, our parents believed the current thing to be bad for us, and that the old thing was far superior to the current thing, but we knew the current thing was just harmless fun, plus the old thing seemed boring and our parents obsession with it really highlighted how unhappy and poorly-adjusted they had become.

    This new thing has gotten out of control though, and should be put to an end

  • by geekmux ( 1040042 ) on Saturday April 15, 2017 @05:12AM (#54239051)

    Today it seems that everyone must rush to create an online identity in order to create a presence in the social media universe. Parents are often to blame for initiating this, finding it "cute" that their 4-year old has their own Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts (yes, I'm talking to you too, Hollywood). Naturally, child social media stars don't merely shut their look-at-me channels down when they get to the ripe old age of 10 and get their own smartphone, which comes with the added bonus of also being able to surf hardcore porn. (Given the lack of concern regarding internet filtering, this apparently means porn is no longer damaging, illegal, or harmful to minors.)

    Chances are we're not solving for some odd addiction to artificial light or "screen time" here. When looking at the real reason behind smartphone addiction, I'm willing to bet a lot of it is tied to an addiction to social media, and the narcissism it creates. Tie the YOLO mentality to the FOMO concept, and it creates that constant need to be attached, online, and updating all the fucking time.

    The true addiction to cure for many, is an addiction to narcissism. The kind that social media has created. Perhaps it's time to re-think the religion of social media, and realize just how damaging it can be.

    • by Kiuas ( 1084567 )

      The true addiction to cure for many, is an addiction to narcissism. The kind that social media has created. Perhaps it's time to re-think the religion of social media, and realize just how damaging it can be.

      Social media has not created it. Hollywood created it long time ago by starting celebrity-worship and reality formats long before social media. Social media is responding to this by saying "you're all performers now, you can all become as popular as the celebrity you like if you just post enough".

      It sho

      • ...You can't treat this by treating the symptom (social media), you need to treat the root cause, but that's easier said than done because the entire culture of entertainment needs to be changed to something less worshiping of popularity based on mainly external traits instead of intellect or ideas.

        I feel there's a rather simple fix to this; Stop fucking rewarding people.

        No more financial rewards for YouTube narcissists for having the most "clicks".

        No more financial rewards for Instagram narcissists for having the most "likes".

        No more financial rewards for Facebook narcissists for having the most "friends".

        Of course, this concept is considerably disruptive to current markets, so stopping this would be about as easy as making all opiates illegal in the US to help control painkiller overdoses.

        Greed is

  • If my father felt I was spending too much time on my Commodore 64, he would take it from me. But he didn't take away my programming books and notebooks. When I got my Commodore 64 back, I already had a debug program ready to type in and save to cassette.
  • Our kids were getting distracted at school because of their phones. We tried to limit their use by not allowing them to take them to school. Not only does this totally defeat the purpose of why we bought them phones in the first place (to contact them when we need to pick them up etc), but the school will actually do things that require phones, and ask them to do research on their phones in class. So they have to have their phones and get distracted.
  • by ErichTheRed ( 39327 ) on Saturday April 15, 2017 @09:02AM (#54239467)

    Just like every new technology changes culture, the smartphone era has its positive and negative changes in how people behave. We went from computers being nerd toys and business machines, to absolutely everyone having a computer in their pockets 24 hours a day, and it's only been about 9 or 10 years. Those of us working from the higher side of the tech spectrum have had to deal with apps that are dumbed down far enough that a non-computer user can mash the screen and use them, and of course we have kids using them as the new TV. I know my kids are heavily into YouTube, etc. The positives in my mind are this -- it's super-easy to find information when you need it now, and even though 99.99999% of the communication is junk, it does provide limited opportunities to connect with others. Another negative is that people are expecting insanely complex business applications to act exactly like their consumer phone apps, making life in IT extra-fun.

    As for "smartphone addiction" I have seen tantrums, etc. but I don't know about withdrawal symptoms. My kids love watching YouTube videos and playing games, but they know that when it's time to shut it of, it's time, and complaints get the phone put away for a while. I'm sure there are parents who don't care and park their kids in front of phones whenever they're not doing something. I've felt guilty lately because we're in the middle of moving and renovating a house, eating almost all our non-working lives -- and yes, I've been relying on it more as a tool so I can get some of the work done. (The kids are 3 and 6, their version of "helping" doesn't help at this stage.) But, I would hope most parents are remembering back to their days of being in front of the TV, or the Atari/Intellivision//NES/PlayStation. My poison was Intellivision and the VIC-20 back in the day -- I showed my older son some games in an emulator and he was...not impressed. :-) My mom and dad would just take it away when I'd had enough and make me go outside or do something non-tech related. I think most phone usage can be controlled in this way -- you're the parent, and you're paying the phone bills. Even if it's the kid's phone, it's still "yours" and they should remember that.

    Just like everything, there has to be a balance. I'm not sure how much I like the narcissistic social media crap, but we're not at that stage yet. They don't get Facebook for quite a while. I'm sure YOLO/FOMO have something to so with why people are reporting addiction symptoms though. I've seen adults who can't wait on a train platform for 10 minutes without instinctively picking up their phones. Actually, try 10 seconds -- nobody talks anymore, or stares out into space daydreaming, or god forbid has a conversation with a stranger.

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