Recently, working with several teen girls, I noticed a common set of symptoms: depression, apathy, Amotivational Syndrome (diminished inspiration to participate in social situations and activities), extreme touchiness, eating disorders, unable to sleep, no homework done and failing in classes, less time spent with family, refusal to leave the home or more importantly their room. Speaking of their rooms—they were complete disasters in terms of piles and piles of clothing and messes. There were young freshmen in college living on their technology and failing their classes. Slowly the teens began telling me about what they do while they are up all night not sleeping: Net Flix movies, X-box, texting, computer, i-pad, Facebook, face time, video games, twitter, tablets – you name it, they own it as soon as it is on the market!
Taking a very big chance, with their parent in the room, I asked if it was possible for the teen to “check in” all technology with that parent by 9 or 10 P.M. or earlier. I reassured the teen they would get the technology back in the morning. I first got the parent’s permission to ask for this. Next, I had to pick the teens up off the floor while they threw fits, screamed and cried (and I mean SOBBED)! This is for real! I became the worst counselor within 30 seconds in their eyes. (I said I was taking a big chance!)
Not knowing if I would see the teens the following week, I said many prayers. To my surprise all returned with smiles on their faces! It worked! These teens were sleeping 10, 12, 13 hours a night now. Homework began getting done. All oppositional defiant behavior disappeared, and the teen began showing up in the family room and at the dinner table! They realized they could survive the night without technology and their friends would not unfriend them!
Yes, technology is here to stay. It really is an important part of this generation in terms of learning, research, their social life, and will be often demanded in their jobs. However, there needs to be limits and boundaries, even for adults. When we realize how technology interferes with our sleep cycle we can then begin to take better care of ourselves. Electronic stimulation actually changes our brains and the brain patterns. We all need to limit our exposure to technology. My experiment worked and I hope this article will help save a teen, a marriage, or loved one from letting life slip through their fingers.
God bless and disconnect!