June 29, 2022 – I am a dad of two teenage sons, the only ones in their respective grades without smartphones. Their images — and “cool factor” — take hits because I won’t let them have these digital drugs.

As a psychologist with decades of experience in the field of addiction, I tell my kids, “I care about your brains, not your images.” Contemptuous eye rolls and sulky withdrawals predictably follow.  Today’s teens spend up to nine hours a day on screens or smartphones, while children ages 8 to 12 are on for four to six hours, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Many teens spend more time on screens than they do sleeping, and some even acknowledge they use them too much.

Our kids are learning to connect through digital devices, an unprecedented phenomenon — and one I’m concerned is radically altering the arc of our ancient brain development.

The alarming state of adolescent mental health is the most glaring symptom, and it fortifies my firewall against giving my kids smartphones. About five years ago, as I walked my then-elementary school kids to school, I was bumped and run into by upper-school students glued to their phones — their consciousness taken hostage, essentially. The external “real” world could not compete with the hypnotic lure of their phones. I was pissed, then worried. 


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