The Power of digital addiction
keeping yourself safe
Most students (and adults!) are unaware of the depth of their addiction to digital engagement. Boundaries set by parents and schools may be the only things that keep them off their devices for a few hours a day. By understanding the addictive nature of digital engagement, students will be primed to begin setting boundaries for themselves. These boundaries should reflect a healthy knowledge of the dangers that are out there, and a healthy respect for their own personhood. Although the section about brain neurotransmitters may seem deep, it is important for students to understand what is happening to them each time they digitally engage.
Students will be able to define addiction and evaluate the level of their digital addiction by understanding first why games and social media are so addictive and second by understanding how dopamine overload creates or worsens addictive behaviors.
- Define addiction
- Addiction Quiz
- Quiz Discussion
- Boundaries Lesson
- Break into Groups for Discussion
- Reactions Group Questions
- Visualization Exercise
- Take Home Activity
word to define: addiction
- An addiction is a compulsive (feels out of control), chronic (never stops), need for a habit-forming substance, behavior, or activity that has harmful effects and causes anxiety and/or irritability when taken away.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, addiction is a:
- “Complex condition, a brain disease that is manifested by compulsive substance use despite harmful consequences.”
Are You Addicted?
QUIZ INSTRUCTIONS: Circle Yes or No for each answer. Be as honest as possible.
ADDICTION DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:
- What did you think about this quiz?
- Did any of the questions make you uncomfortable?
- Did the questions make you realize that you can be addicted to your phone?
- What are some positive things about having a cell phone?
- What are some negative things about having a cell phone?
- Do you think it’s possible to use your phone and not abuse it or be addicted to it?
- What are some ways you could protect yourself from cell phone addiction?
*Inevitably someone will say something about putting boundaries, restrictions, or limits on phone usage. This is the perfect segue into the section on boundaries and the visualization exercise.
Y O U H A V E A N A D D I C T I O N IF:
- If you have ever argued with your parent about turning off a video game or giving up your phone for a period of time (maybe even a short dinner), you have an addiction.
- If you have had to be threatened with punishment or discipline because you wouldn’t stay within the boundaries of your online activities, you have an addiction.
- If you have stayed in the bathroom longer than necessary so you could finish looking at or playing on a phone, or if you have stayed up past a healthy bedtime while looking at your phone, you have an addiction.
- If you “sneak peek” to see if you got a text or Snapchat message during a class, a meal, or church, you have an addiction.
B O U N D A R I E S
Boundaries are part of the plan to help you achieve your goals faster. No one really likes boundaries.
Have you ever been to a farm or out into the country where horses, cows, or sheep are grazing? Often you will see those animals fenced in with acres of beautiful grass to eat. But where do they hang out? (At the fence line.)
They stick their little noses right through whatever fence is there and munch on the grass just outside the boundary that has been set for them.
Why do they do that? (Entertain answers)
Aren’t we all a bit like that? If we are told that we have one hour to play video games with our friends, and that hour is over, we complain, whine, beg, and try to push the boundary up to more than one hour.
Guess what? No matter how much time you get to play, it will always seem like “not quite long enough.”
You will always want more time than you are allowed to have. Because we are like those sheep and goats, and horses, and cows.
We always want what is just out of reach. That is how humans are wired.
- Pair up students for boundaries discussion in small groups.
BOUNDARIES DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:
- Do your parents put boundaries or limits on the amount of time that you can be online or on your phone? If so, what are those boundaries or limits?
- Do they say only after your homework and chores are done? Or is there a time limit?
- Why do you think your parents put these limits on you?
- Do you think they just don’t understand? Or that they are being mean? Or do you think there may be good reasons for boundaries?