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How often is there an argument in your household over the amount a time your child uses electronics? For many of the parents Dr. Kimberly Young talks with, it’s a daily occurrence.
That was one of the reasons that Young, an internationally known expert on internet addiction and director of St. Bonaventure University’s master’s in Strategic Leadership program, wanted her sixth book on the topic to examine some of technology’s most susceptible users. Young and Cristiano Nabuco de Abreu, Ph.D., are co-editors of “Internet Addiction in Children and Adolescents: Risk Factors, Assessment, and Treatment” — the first book to thoroughly examine how early and easy access to the internet and digital technologies impacts children and adolescents.
Divided into two sections, the first part of the book addresses risk factors and impact of screen time by exploring topics such as gaming, texting and smartphone addiction. The second part of the book focuses on prevention, assessment and treatment.
Each of the 15 chapters in the new textbook is authored by an expert in the field — counselors, pediatricians and other practitioners — who examined research that shows the social, cognitive, developmental and academic problems that can result when children spend excessive time in front of screens.
There is growing evidence that children’s media environments and behavior continue to change, with children more likely to use mobile interactive media such as smartphones and tables at younger ages. For instance, a 2015 study by Common Sense Media of 2,600 teenagers suggests that kids spend more time with media and technology than with their parents, at school, or for any other activity.
“There’s a societal shift,” said Young. “Kids aren’t getting out and playing as much as they used to. At the same time, with a focus on STEM, teachers are expected to increase the use of technology in their classrooms.”
Younger children are the most vulnerable, she said. Technology has been accepted for all ages and has been integrated into toys and baby gear. Increased technology use has socialization and cognitive impacts on some children, who don’t have the self-initiation to play with other kids or be creative.
The book provides strategies for treatment and prevention in family, school, and community settings for practitioners in psychology, social work, school counseling, child and family therapy, and nursing. For practitioners, “Internet Addiction in Children and Adolescents” examines how to diagnose Internet addiction and how to differentiate it from other kinds of adolescent psychiatric conditions.
Parents may also find the assessment tools and prevention tactics in the book helpful as they navigate their child’s development. For instance, in Young’s chapter “Assessment Issues with Internet-Addicted Children and Adolescences,” she offers what are called “3-6-9-12 guidelines.” The guidelines recommend different rules for different developmental ages, such as one hour a day of technology for children age 3 to 6 years, and outlines the independence desired by children 12 to 18 years old.
“Parents are looking for something pragmatic,” said Young.
Young launched the first study on internet addiction in 1995 and wrote the first book on the topic, “Caught in the Net,” in 1998. She now travels globally to develop and discuss research and treatment for this evolving problem.
Young sees that culture does play a role in internet addiction. Researchers estimate some 4 percent of adolescents meet the criteria of internet addiction in the United States. In Hong Kong, that percentage is estimated at 17 percent to 26.8 percent. However, China also has mandated hospitalization for children who are addicted.
Young and Nabuco de Abeu’s 2010 book, “Internet Addiction: A Handbook and Guide to Evaluation and Treatment,” has been used by many hospitals and other clinics.
A psychologist, Nabuco de Abreu coordinates the Internet Addicts Program of the Impulse Control Unit of the Institute of Psychiatry at the University of São Paulo in Brazil. Using a pioneering method in Brazil and Latin America, the unit has offered therapy sessions and counseling to adults, adolescents, and their family members since 2005. He is the former president of the Brazilian Society of Cognitive Therapies and former vice president of Latina America Society of Cognitive Therapies.
“Internet Addiction in Children and Adolescents” was printed by New York City-based Springer Publishing Company.
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