Are teens addicted to technology?

Girl holding smart phone (Thinkstock)

PORTLAND (WGME) – If you’re a parent of a teenager you probably already know that teens love their technology.

According to a Common Sense Media poll, teens are more connected now than ever before and the effects of that connectivity are still playing out.

According to the poll, 50 percent of teens say they feel addicted to their mobile devices.

Seventy-eight percent of teens say they check their devices at least once an hour, and 72 percent of teens feel the need to respond immediately to texts, messages and notifications.

Dr. Erin Belfort specializes in child and adolescent psychiatry at Maine Health, and says while internet addiction isn’t really a formal psychiatric or mental health diagnosis, the compulsive need to be connected can be very real for teens and adults.

“For some kids their use becomes compulsive,” Dr. Belfort said. “They can’t stop. They can’t stop looking even if they feel distressed. They’re checking their Facebook feeds 100 times a day."

She says the average American kid is using about 9 hours of screen media a day, including technology used for entertainment and education. She says with the increase of technology she’s also seen an increase in anxiety in young people, but it’s hard to tell if the two are connected.

“I see kids who are anxious who are sad who are hopeless,” Dr. Belfort said. “You’re hearing more and I’m certainly seeing more about this fear of missing out: FOMO. So unlike 20 years ago if your friends do something without you now you know about it because it’s posted on social media.”

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