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  • Kara Dumlao, LMFt

Teens and Technology

"When I went to college, there were no cell phones." (Silence) You could hear a pin drop as the teen sitting in front of me tries to contemplate such a reality. Nope, they can't imagine it. There are these new catch phrases of "technology immigrant" versus "technology native" to refer to this ever widening divide between parents and their teenagers. More often than not, parents are asking for help from their teens to assist with cell phones, tablets and new computers. The most concerning part for me, as counselor of teenagers for more than 10 years now, is two fold: first, the vast amout of exposure to inappropriate material available to teens and children at younger and younger ages and second, we don't yet know the impact of technology on neurodevelopment for these "technology natives".

Parents are undoubtly concerned about early exposure to adult topics, drugs, sexually explicit material and stranger danger on the internet. How can this be regulated when kids have more knowledge about how to use the technolgy than parents? In my experience, not too effectively. Parents "controls" are a nice idea in theory, but the reality is a motivated teen can outsmart this technology. This is very scary for parents, but it's even harder for teens to process and stay away from tempations which could hurt them.

Traditional play therapy models support a "less is more" dynamic in relationship to toys during a child's development. For example, a stick and block take a lot more creative brain power than video game. Technology makes things externally stimulating rather than internally, which certainly impacts brain development.

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