The New Adolescent Addiction: Digital Screens

The New Adolescent Addiction: Digital Screens

Where do adolescents go when they fall down the ubiquitous “rabbit hole” of their digital screens? As parents we try to regulate their screen time, monitor their internet activity with parenting apps, and limit what they watch on television. Often what they aren’t seeing at home, they’re seeing in school. Most schools are equipped with computers, tablets, and digital devices.

Dr. Nicholas Kardaras wrote the controversial but deeply researched Glow Kids: How Screen Addiction Is Hijacking Our Kids — and How to Break the Trance boldly calling digital screens “digital heroin”. Telling the stories of many parents who found their children transformed by screen time, Kardaras forms a horrifying idea: that children are becoming addicted to technology. Worse, interaction with digital screens in adolescence is linked to drug and alcohol addiction.

“Over 200 peer-reviewed studies correlate excessive screen usage with a whole host of clinical disorders, including addiction,” Kardaras writes for The New York Post. “Recent brain-imaging research confirms that glowing screens affect the brain’s frontal cortex– which controls executive functioning, including impulse control– in exactly the same way as drugs like cocaine and heroin.” Citing studies conducted on US military veterans receiving treatment for PTSD and severe physical traumatic injury, Kardaras emphasizes that “…screens and video games can literally affect the brain like digital morphine.” Participants in the study “felt no pain”, according to brain imaging, when they interacted with screens and played a game involving penguins and Paul Simon music.

Gaming addiction, social media addiction, and internet use disorders are problematic for adolescents. The adolescent brain is still developing. Combined abuse of screens and substances like drugs and alcohol cause serious cognitive impairments, affecting mental health, resulting in social problems, academic problems, and problems at home.


Treatment for a dualistic issue of gaming addiction and drug addiction requires a complete disconnect where a child can connect with the elements, far removed from temptations of the digital world. Stonewater Adolescent Recovery Center offers the clinical haven adolescents need in addition to the academic structure and healing environment necessitated by addiction. Providing a continuum of care for youth recovery development, Stonewater offers the programming your child may need. Call us today for more information at 1-662-598-4214.