NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — More and more parents are telling kids to limit screen time.
But can smartphones help kids steer clear of more dangerous behaviors, or is the digital distraction just another potential addiction?
“I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone to struggle with addiction or alcoholism,” a former addict told CBS2’s Alice Gainer.
As a teen, addiction was a way of life for the young woman.
Now sober, she relies on her phone for help in recovery.
“I do communicate with my sober network through it,” she said.
According to Kristin Wilson of the Newport Academy, smartphones can be an effective tool, and sometimes even a drug deterrent.
“If a kid is using it as everyone is smoking marijuana at a party, and they’re choosing to go on Facebook so that nobody’s passing them the joint,” she said.
She added that no one should ignore the powerful and potentially addictive pull of technology.
“It’s not a lesser evil is it’s going to produce addictive behavior. The released when people get social media likes, it’s the same type of response you can get when you get high,” Wilson said.
Angelica Gori is a college student who sees tech addictions in some peers, but thinks it’s not as serious as drugs.
“I think it’s a high for some people, but I think it’s on a different spectrum if you were going to drink or use drugs,” she said.
Her friend Gina Siniscalthi said digital addiction should not be ignored.
“I’ll be in a car with friends and stuff straight up texting, and I’m like, ‘Are you trying to kill me?’ They can’t even drive without checking,” she said.
According to educator Diane Lange, who’s also the parent of a teen, social media can sometimes shed an unflattering light on drugs and help keep some kids away.
“A student last week in my class said I don’t really need to see it, and it doesn’t look that fun. I would rather just watch it from afar and not be involved,” she said.
She added that a tech addiction can also have serious social and emotional consequences down the line.
“You’re on something for four hours, whatever social media, then when you’re off you’re feeling the shame and depression about it,” she said.
For many parents, use of digital devices may be easier to monitor and limit than drugs and alcohol. Experts suggest setting boundaries and tech free zones early.