Kidspace Blogs: Child and Family Psychology
Technology has a number of benefits, such as increased social support and the flexibility to work from home. However, as it has evolved, technology has become infamous for gaming and social media addictions in our youth. A study published in 2018 highlights concerns of the reverse: distractions caused by technology in adults. The paper draws on the term Technoference, referring to every day interruptions to interpersonal interactions and connections caused by smartphones, iPads, computers etc. Perhaps, the flexibility of working from home has enabled work obsessions and the deterioration of our ‘off button’. Nowadays, we continue to get work related emails and messages in evenings and on weekends. Naturally, our hardworking selves want to be efficient and therefore we find ourselves responding to such emails at all hours. However, these Technoferences are shown to lead to deterioration in relationships and increased problem behaviours in our children, at least in the short term. These behaviours include whining, heightened sensitivity, hyperactivity and tantrums. The question becomes, how do we uphold efficient work while prioritising family time?
The answer isn’t simple. Some research has suggested dedicated “unplugged” family time. While this has not been researched extensively, some professionals suggest this may reduce problematic externalising behaviours in children and enhance interpersonal connections within the family. A reason suggested for this is that multitasking by parents, between their children and their device, makes it difficult to read and respond to their child’s emotional cues.
Another aspect to be aware of is the number of devices in the household. Literature suggests that families who have more devices report increased externalising behaviours and problematic digital technology use. The more devices within the household, the more likely it is for Technoference to take place during day-to-day interactions.
Nonetheless, finding a balance can be tricky and each family may be different due to their own circumstances. Families are encouraged to be aware of their screen time and how this may impact their family dynamics and their children’s behaviours.
Main paper referred to: McDaniel, B. T., & Radesky, J. S. (2018). Technoference: Parent distraction with technology and associations with child behavior problems. Child development, 89(1), 100-109.
What you can do if your child is addicted to their screens
Parents welcome technology devices in the home as helpful tools – who doesn’t want a homework assistant, a boredom killer, or a digital babysitter?
But without parameters, technology is like the unpleasant house guest who overstays their welcome, while eating everything in the fridge.
Research suggests the average child spends more than six hours on screens each day.
Health experts say excessive amounts of time spent on smart phones and tablets can be addictive and affect childhood development.
So how do parents help reform their children’s technology habits?
Brad Marshall from Kidspace, an internet addiction clinic based in Sydney, has witnessed the damage screen addiction can have on Australian families first hand.
He told Sunday Night about a simple sign that parents can look out for to see if their child is addicted.
“If your child is using one of these apps or games to the exclusion of wanting to go outside, or to the exclusion of wanting to go to a party or going to sport or going to bed, then you have got an issue on your hand,” Mr Marshall said.
However, Mr Marshall firmly believes the addiction can be treated with specialised therapy.
“The therapy has three main phases. The first phase is interacting and trying to build rapport with the child and the family. It’s very important to try to understand what the teenager is doing online.”
“In the second phase, we are looking at a treatment phase where essentially we’re trying to increase communication in the family. We put in place a behaviour management plan or an internet usage plan.
“The third phase is when we look to back off so I step away a bit, hoping that the parents will step in and problem solve a bit better in future.”
And the specialised therapy seems to be working well. Brad said: “Roughly speaking about 60% of families or children we have treated show significant improvement over time. There is about 20% that show what we would call mild to moderate improvements.”
Screen addiction is not just brand-new territory for parents but for Australian addiction specialists too.
“We do the best with what we have got and at the moment the research is quite lacking and we are scrambling a little bit to try and keep up.
“As technology evolves we don’t really know how that is going to impact on children and teenagers and families and I think it’s a giant game of catch up for us because every time there is a new development in technology, it’s a new barrier for us to try and help families.”
To read the full Sunday Night Interview click the link below:
News Flash March 2017
Kidspace Principal Psychologist Mr Brad Marshall providing some expert advice to the readers of the Daily Telegraph.
Are you concerned about your toddlers reaction when you take away that precious tablet?
Kidspace Presents: Clinical Insight Series
This week Kidspace hosted its third annual Clinical Insight Series. One of our resident Child and Family Psychiatrists, Dr Adrian Falkov presented his research on The Family Model. This was followed by Kidspace consultant Professor Garry Walter presenting his years of research and clinical experience on the topic of treating “school refusal” in children and teenagers.
A select group of school counsellors attended and helped provide their insight and experience on the topics. Kidspace would like to thank the school counsellors in attendance for their ongoing collaboration and commitment to improving the mental health of our young people.
Exploring Teens: Q&A Parent Forum
Northshore Kidspace Principal Child Psychologist Mr Brad Marshall was recently invited to present at the “Exploring Teens Q&A Parent Forum” on the topic of Problematic Internet Use, more commonly referred to as ‘Internet Addiction’. The forum explored the question “Is this normal teenage behaviour?”. Northshore Kidspace would like to thank the staff of the Exploring Teens Magazine for extending Brad Marshall a warm welcome to this groundbreaking event supporting parents.
Psychiatry training in partnership with the NSW Institute of Psychiatry
As one of Sydney’s largest Child and Adolescent Psychiatry private practices, Kidspace was recently invited by the NSW Institute of Psychiatry (www.nswiop.nsw.edu.au) to host a symposium dedicated to the learning and professional development of trainee Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists.
Northshore Kidspace senior staff Professor Garry Walter AM and Dr Damian Fong delivered a training session to eighteen doctors as part of their accreditation in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Professor Walter commented afterwards, “It was a wonderful opportunity to help mentor the next generation of trainee psychiatrists”.
Look familiar? Are you concerned about the amount of time your family is spending glued to a screen this summer holidays?
Late last year the Australian Psychological Society (APS) released survey details outlining social media and its impact on Australian’s wellbeing. The survey found 56% of Australians are “heavy” social media users.
While there are many positives, with teenagers feeling more socially connected at the click of button, they also acknowledged some negative factors. Most notably the high number of Australian teenagers who ruminate and interpret their friends as having more fun without them.
3 Tips to limit FOMO these holidays:
- Turn the Internet access off at night. Its one thing for a parent to monitor any negative consequences of FOMO during the day, but at night sleep deprived adolescents can get stuck in negative thought cycles.
- Encourage face-to-face activities. Gone are the days of parents trying to “keep their teenagers at home so they are safe”. Encourage your child to engage in structured activities with friends, even if this involves screen time.
- Make family activities screen free time. Start with something small like meal times, and then tackle longer periods.
You can read the complete APS survey media release: http://www.psychology.org.au/news/media_releases/8Nov2015-fomo/
Internet Addiction: A Slow Road to Disconnected Children
Northshore Kidspace Principal Child Psychologist Mr Brad Marshall was recently invited by The King’s School in Sydney to speak on the topic of Problematic Internet Use, more commonly referred to as ‘Internet Addiction’. Northshore Kidspace would like to thank The King’s School staff and parents for extending Brad Marshall a warm welcome to one of Sydney most prestigious schools.
Is Your Child Gambling Online?
Author: Mr Brad Marshall, Principal Psychologist Northshore Kidspace
Many years ago I was invited to write an article for the Networks for Internet Investigation and Research Australia (NIIRA) on how to engage children and adolescents suffering from Internet Addiction. Despite this not being an official diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5 (DSM-5), it has been ear marked as an area in need of further research. Some of my colleagues will debate the use of the term Internet Addiction, and prefer ‘Problematic Internet Use’. I am less interested in semantics and refer to Internet Addiction as this is the term most familiar to families I see.
In my earlier submission to NIIRA, which can be found at www.niira.org.au, I observed that as Internet Addiction is such a new phenomena it can be difficult for child psychologists, schools, and parents to keep up. Technology is a rapidly developing domain. The convenience it can bring to our daily lives is unquestionable, but at what cost? I have observed a proportion of children and teenagers who interact with the Internet in such a way it can effect their emotional, behavioural, social, and educational development.
While I cannot address the concerns I see in my practice in this forum, I would like to share a new and increasing development in the realm of Internet Addiction. This year I have observed an increase in children and teenagers struggling with online gambling or betting on Massive Multiplayer Online Role-playing Games (MMORPG). When I am giving a presentation on this topic, I like to pose this question to the audience: How would one place a bet on a MMORPG? Of course the puzzled looks ensue. Answer? The same way you bet on your favourite sporting event or horse race. That’s right, pop on down to your local betting facility and eat your heart out. Or perhaps embrace technology and pull out your smart phone, which will allow you to do so at your convenience. For those sceptics, take a few minutes to search the betting sites commonly advertised on TV and search under ‘E-Sports’ or something similar. I can tell you in the next Counter Strike (CS-GO) ‘Dreamhack Open Event’ Team Envius are currently paying $3.60 for the win.
We would hope that most teenagers do not have access to an account with one of our large betting companies. I sense a collective sigh of relief? Unfortunately, there is a much easier way to bet on these events. Teenagers are now using third party websites that allow users to bet items within online games. Let me take you through this step-by-step. If I play a MMORPG one of the main goals is to acquire items within this online world. Typically it’s an item that enhances my character like a sword, or body armour etc. I am then able to bet these items on the outcome of ‘professional tournaments’. I can watch these tournaments live through YouTube at some ungodly hour due to international time differences. I am also able to sell these items (yes I’m talking currency in exchange for items) to other players around the world. This money will then register in my Paypal, or ‘Steam’ account allowing me access. If you lost me somewhere along the way, the punch line is that betting these items has the same risk and reward scenario as you trotting down to the casino and putting it all on black.
In my anecdotal experience, this can create significant emotional and behavioural swings in children and teenagers. After all, if I lost $500 at the casino I know I would be upset and angry!
About the Author: Brad is a Child and Adolescent Psychologist with many years experience consulting in some of Sydney’s well-respected hospitals and most recently at the University of Notre Dame Australia. He is currently consulting full time at Northshore Kidspace, a Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychology clinic on Sydney’s North Shore.
Internet Addiction: A Slow Road to Disconnected Children
Northshore Kidspace Child Principal Psychologist Mr Brad Marshall was recently invited by Marist College North Shore to speak on the topic of Problematic Internet Use, more commonly referred to as ‘Internet Addiction’.
Brad explored Internet overuse versus ‘addiction’, the reasons why boys may overuse technology, and its impacts on emotional, social, and educational development, as well as impacts on behaviour and health.
Importantly, Brad offered some tips from his work with adolescents:
- Understand your son’s online activities and why he uses them. Try not to make judgmental statements.
- Negotiate a reasonable amount of time for online activities.
- Come to a very clear and objective agreement, with access as a reward rather than a right.
- Make the agreement so it can be reasonably reinforced within the family.
- Be realistic. Don’t take away all access; just enough so that educational, social and sporting commitments come first. If the agreement is broken, remove access for no more than 24 hours.
- The modem is the key to negotiation, rather than removing all devices.
Northshore Kidspace would like to thank Marist College North Shore for their support and taking the initiative in providing a forum for parents where they can feel comfortable talking about these critical issues in adolescent development.
Hot off the press: managing self-harm in adolescents
1 August 2015
Three Kidspace clinicians – Damian Fong, Brad Marshall and Garry Walter – were recently invited by Medical Observer, a leading Australian medical journal, to contribute an article on self-harm in adolescents. At Kidpsace, we not uncommonly see young people in whom self-harm is a new or ongoing problem. The article in Medical Observer highlights that self-harm can occur for a variety of reasons. “Careful clinical evaluation is always important,” suggested Dr Fong, “Self-harm can occur in young people with depression, anxiety, drug and alcohol problems, psychosis or other problems, and recognition and treatment of these problems can go a long way towards eliminating the self-harm.” The article includes several practical strategies for adolescents themselves who wish to stop engaging in this behaviour.
Inspirational new book on depression in young people
28 April 2015
At Kidspace, we regularly assess and treat children and adolescents with depression, an increasingly common problem in the community. A new book on depression in young people by Adam Schwartz, challengingly titled, “Mum, I wish I was dead”, has just been released. Launched by Kidspace psychiatrist, Professor Garry Walter AM, before an audience of over 200 people, Professor Walter suggested that the book was both pioneering and a welcome arrival. “Published accounts by young people are rare,” Professor Walter commented. “Adam has been courageous to movingly document his battle with depression in childhood and adolescence, which included a range of treatments inside and out of hospital. Perhaps most importantly, the book demonstrates that with appropriate treatment and support, even severe depression can be overcome. It thus offers well-founded hope for young sufferers and families.”
Details about Adam and the book may be found at http://adamschwartz.com.au
At the recent book launch (L-R): MC Larry Emdur, Kidspace psychiatrist Professor Garry Walter AM and author Adam Schwartz
Kidspace Presents: Clinical Insight Series
26 November 2014
This week Kidspace hosted its first event in the Clinical Insight Series. One of our resident Child Psychiatrists, Dr Peter Davies presented on the important role fathers play in child development. A select group of local school counsellors helped provide their insight and experience on the topic.
We look forward to hosting further Clinical Insight Series events in 2015, and as always, value our ongoing working relationship with school counsellors.