Compass Health Center Launches Innovative Program to Combat Rising Screen Addiction in Children and Teens
[Chicago, Illinois, August 8, 2023] - In today's digital age, screens and technology play an integral role in our daily lives. From virtual learning to social connections, the use of devices has become ubiquitous, especially among children. According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, “On average, children ages 8-12 in the United States spend 4-6 hours a day watching or using screens, and teens spend up to 9 hours.” However, excessive screen use can come with serious consequences. Recent studies have revealed that too much screen time can lead to issues such as obesity, disturbed sleep, behavioral problems, and deficits in learning and social skills. In light of these findings, Compass Health Center has launched a new Child Screen Dependence Program at its Chicago location, offering a balanced approach to screen use which is now more crucial than ever.
“Screen dependence is an escalating concern with profound implications on a child's mental and emotional health. I firmly believe in the necessity of a proactive, comprehensive approach," expressed Dr. David Schreiber, MD, Co-founder of Compass Health Center. A seasoned Child, Adolescent, and Adult Psychiatrist, Dr. Schreiber is acutely aware of the intricacies of managing screen dependence in the digital age. "Our newly introduced Child Screen Dependence program signifies a crucial step in confronting this issue. Our goal is not to advocate for a screen-free life, but rather, we aim to equip children and their families with strategies to balance screen use with other life-enriching activities. This approach empowers children to cultivate a healthier, happier lifestyle.”
Finding Balance in the Digital World
Compass's Child Screen Dependence Program is designed to support children aged 8-14 and their families in establishing a healthy relationship with screens. While technology can offer creativity and social connections, excessive screen time or screen removal can lead to challenges like low mood, isolation, and anxiety. Striking the right balance is essential for maintaining overall well-being.
“Many of the things we do on our screens are designed to keep our brains stimulated. We are drawn to screens because of their predictability, the social aid it provides us, and even the escape from reality. Additionally, the immediate gratification built into most apps activates our dopamine receptors, which motivates us to continue to scroll and click away on our devices,” said Anna Finis, PsyD, Director of Child Mood & Anxiety Program. “In a world of online learning and remote connections, it is crucial that we find a balance in our screen use. While it is not realistic to lead a screen-free life, we cannot allow screens to eliminate other enriching life activities.”
Signs of Screen Overreliance in Children:
- Excessive preoccupation with screens/devices
- Frequent planning of screen time even when not using devices
- Escalating urges to engage in screen-related activities
- Unsuccessful attempts to reduce screen time
- Frustration or distress when unable to access screens
- Negative impact on academics, social life, family relationships, etc.
- Using screens to escape personal problems
Guided by Evidence-Based Therapeutic Approaches
Using evidence-based principles from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Compass empowers children to build new coping skills outside the digital realm. In a safe and supportive environment with TVs and game consoles available in the group space, children will practice real-time techniques to manage screen time and develop healthier habits.
“In order to practice the coping skills they are learning in group, children will be able to play video games and work on screens during program while simultaneously being asked to transition away from these screens after a certain period of time. This real-life practice conducted during the program, with the support of trained therapists by their side, is critical to help children build awareness of their own triggers and physiological symptoms while also learning helpful coping skills that they can use in similar situations at home,” said Finis.
Compass’s Child Screen Dependence Program Highlights
- Cultivating Distress Tolerance: Children will learn to tolerate periods of screen separation, utilizing CBT/DBT coping skills to navigate these moments.
- Balancing Screen Time with Offline Activities: Children and families will learn to strike a balance between online and offline activities, ensuring daily life expectations and real-life experiences are not diluted through online activities.
- Collaborative Family Support: Families will work with clinicians to navigate new technological limits in their home and create new norms. Families will problem-solve to create replacement activities for screens and foster more mindful use of screens overall.
- Real Time Opportunities to Practice Skills: This innovative new program will utilize video games, social media, YouTube and other platforms to allow patients and families to learn and then practice the skills and strategies associated with decreasing usage and setting healthier screen boundaries.
Empowering Healthy Futures for Children and Families
As a leading provider of behavioral health services, Compass Health Center is committed to supporting individuals and families in their journey towards well-being. The Child Screen Dependence program reinforces Compass's dedication to providing innovative and impactful solutions for the challenges of modern living.
If your child's screen usage is causing distress or affecting their overall functioning, Compass is here to help. Call 877.552.6672 to schedule an appointment. Visit Compass’s website to learn more about the Child Screen Dependence Program and comprehensive mental health services. Join Compass in promoting a healthy balance between technology and life's other enriching experiences.
As seen in AP News.
Associate Director, Brand Management, Compass Health Center
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