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10/26/14blog post

will kids have THIS disorder in 10 years?

Compared to teens growing up in the 1980s, high school students today are significantly more likely to report problems with sleeping, thinking and remembering according to a recent study just published in the journal Social Indicators Research.

Scientists speculated that these symptoms may be indicators of depression. Are our kids really more depressed today than teens growing up thirty years ago? I think not.

If depression had increased among our teens, wouldn’t you predict that more young adults would think about hurting themselves? In fact, the percent of high school students who have seriously thought about suicide has actually decreased over the past 25 years, from 29 percent to 16 percent.

I think these symptoms are due to something else—Technology Attention Disorder (TAD).

Don’t rush to a psychology textbook to learn more about this disorder. TAD isn’t recognized as a real mental problem quite yet, but here’s what you may be reading ten years from now.

Technology Attention Disorder – 2024

Description. This disorder developed in the early part of the twenty-first century as the use of technology became widespread among America’s youth. In 2010, kids used entertainment media (computers, cell phones, etc.) an average of seven and a half hours daily. Some children became overwhelmed by the constant stimulation and developed a variety of physical and psychological symptoms. Multitasking became commonplace among kids, resulting in overstimulation and psychological withdrawal from social interactions.

Symptoms. Physical symptoms included problems with sleeping, focusing, remembering, and attention to tasks. The most serious psychological manifestations of TAD included an inability to form meaningful relationships, as the development of interpersonal communication skills was impeded by the limitless interaction with machines.

Contributing Factors. Parents and schools contributed to the increasing prevalence of TAD, fueled by endless marketing campaigns to create pseudo needs for things kids really didn’t need and families couldn’t afford.

Well intentioned educators dramatically adjusted their teaching methods to respond to the perceived needs of these young “digital natives.” Adopting the latest technology became confused with education. Many schools wasted money on more gadgets to interact with kids, rather than investing resources for teachers and support services.

Consistent with the fashionable notion that being a friend to your child was more important than being a parent, few limits were placed on kids’ use of technologies. Surveys conducted in the early 2010s indicated that fewer than 50 percent of parents limited their children’s use of various media devices.

Treatment. Drug companies began testing the efficacy of medications to solve this problem (similar to what occurred with Attention Deficit Disorder). However, psychologists discovered that the root cause was not due to biology, but rather to our behavior. With reasonable rules, consistent consequences, and a focus on relationships, TAD was successfully eradicated by 2020.

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