Alex J. Packer, author of Slaying Digital Dragons, joins us for a look at technology’s effects on our physical, mental, and social health, and how we can control our own tech use, and not let it control us!
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Full show notes
For parents, technology can be quite the headache. We want kids to stay connected to the world, but is their iphone distracting them from school? Is all the time spent on social media making them depressed or anxious? Should we be limiting their screen time, blocking websites or supervising them while they’re scrolling through Tik Tok? At this point, it’s tempting to just throw their phones in the trash and forbid them from going on the computer at all!
But if we try to set rules or even just tell them to put the phone down, they’re suddenly slamming the door in our faces or rolling their eyes. Even when we have the best intentions, trying to monitor teen’s tech use can turn into a cycle of nagging and arguing. If we’re going to escape all the bickering, we’ve got to convince teens to make the change for themselves, instead of trying to force them to budge.
Our guest this week is not only an expert on how screens are affecting budding minds, but also has some seriously smart tips for talking to teens about it all. Alex J. Packer spent 14 years as President and CEO of FCD Educational Services, the leading nonprofit providing drug education and substance abuse prevention services for schools across the world. His new book, Slaying Digital Dragons: Tips and Tools for Protecting Your Body, Brain, Psyche, and Thumbs from the Digital Dark Side, touches on a new kind of addiction–the compulsive use of screens in our society, particularly amongst young adults.
In our interview, we’re diving deep into the harmful effects of tech on teens, and getting into how to help kids cleanse themselves of toxic tech habits.
Why We Should Be Worried About Teens’ Tech Use
Although you may have heard about the negative effects of too much screen time, it can be easy to just dismiss these ideas as myths. If your teen doesn’t seem to be struggling with anything as a result of their new iphone, should you really be worried? According to Alex, you definitely should be. In our interview, he’s laying out several concerning effects of too much tech use–some social, some physical, some psychological and some emotional!
One of the most commonly discussed conundrums of the social media age is the tendency for young adults (and everyone else) to become rather obsessed with online popularity and image. Teens have been concerned with popularity since teenagerhood was invented, but social media has taken the adolescent quest for social status from the high school halls right into your child’s bedroom, says Alex. Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat cause teens to think about their status 24/7, by constantly reminding them about likes, shares and followers. No wonder our kids are so stressed out!
There are also plenty of physical effects brought about by all the screen time. Teens (and parents!) can suffer from intense eye strain from spending so much time staring at their tiny phone screens. Alex also explains an issue he calls “tech neck” or the pain, soreness, and bad posture we experience as a result of hunching over our laptops and ipads. There’s the possibility of pain in hand and fingers, but most concerning of all to Alex is the risk to our sleep. In the episode, he explains further why we should be very worried about the effects of screens on our ability to sleep.
The constant stimulation of screens is also a consistent psychological problem, says Alex. It tends to trigger our fight or flight response, which activates our nervous system. Continuously aggravating our body this way leads to chronic stress, which not only affects our bodily health, but our minds as well. Teens might