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Growing Leaders Blog

on Leading the Next Generation


What Can We Do with an Addiction to Technology?

A few weeks ago, one of our blog readers, Sheena McDonald Clark, wrote:

Tim, as a teacher (and a parent), I am amazed at how much technology kids use in a day. My students would rather be suspended than give up their phone for the day. How will this dependence play into their futures? Yes, technology is useful and helpful, but they seem to have an addiction to it. I did read Generation iY, but I would like to discuss other social issues related to this generation’s inability to only "live online." I'm afraid what this could lead to in future generations. How will these kids parent, work, or find a balance instead of posting every moment on social media?


This is a legitimate concern for many parents and teachers. It almost sounds cliché, but kids today—from athletes to mathletes—are becoming dependent, even addicted to technology. Pew Research reports that students would rather lose their “small finger” than their smart phone. They place technology in the same category as air and water. Let me suggest some age-old practices that may help:

Five Ideas You Can Practice:

1. Teach your young people to balance “screen time” with “face time.” For every hour they spend in front of a screen, they should spend equal hours face to face with people. This will help them keep their soft skills high as they enter a job.

2. Place your kids in groups and ask them two questions to prompt discussion:

a. What are the advantages to new technology in our lives?

b. What are the disadvantages to new technology in our lives?

3. When spending time in face-to-face conversations, always prioritize those people. Place your phone on silent, and give eye contact with the persons in front of you. This communicates they are the priority and that you can reply to messages later.

4. Give assignments that force young people to interface with people from older or younger generations. Whenever we converse with those different from us we grow in our emotional intelligence and in our communication skills.

5. Teach your students that whenever they feel they’re slipping into a dependence or addiction to anything—it always helps to take time off. Do a “technology fast” and put your phones, tablets or laptops away for a season. You’ll feel liberated.

This list is just the beginning. What would you add to it?


Bring Tim to share the future of student development with your faculty and staff.




  1. Milly Cooper on October 10, 2013 at 7:47 am

    This is a massive concern on so many levels, I don’t know where to start.

    It’s causing so many issues in my household of teenagers. One thing I do (& strongly recommend) is pulling the plug out of the WIFI modem by 10:30pm, not providing kids with big data usage pans on mobile/cell phones and insisting devices be kept in kitchen area from bedtime.

    The addiction is messing with the wiring in their brains causing distractions, learning difficulties, sleep deprivation, depressin, anxiety, suicide, etc etc.

    Kids are so addicted to the phones they don’t even realise they’re checking it half the time. This is also cause for concern when driving. And to think new vehicles have features with Internet & social media!

    • Tim Elmore on October 10, 2013 at 11:04 am

      Thanks for the comment Milly. Do you know of others who also pull the Wifi modem plug by a certain hour? I think that may be great advice for several of our readers.

      • Dale Aceron on October 12, 2013 at 9:51 am

        We do something similar. No tech at table during meals, they have certain Tech acheduled blocks, and their Tech has to be charged on mom and dad’s room to avoid late night usage. It’s worked well so far.

        • Tim Elmore on October 14, 2013 at 1:08 pm

          Hmm, I definitely like that idea…charging tech devices in parents’ room. Great way to ensure rest and recovery. Thanks for sharing!

  2. L Wood on October 10, 2013 at 12:08 pm

    I will instist on “if you want a device and or phone, you will have to pay all the costs associated with it (them.) I blame parents because they are the one’s paying the bills and giving these “gifts.” Don’t do it! this way the kids will have to learn the value of what they are using and understand it isn’t a “right.” If you have been footing the bill, then let your kids know it will stop at the end of this month and they will be responsible to get a job or go without. If I was an employer I would have all phone’s left in the workers car till break. If I found one of my employee’s their phone during work they would be out of a job. If the parents have an “emmergency” they can call the buisness not the kids phone. For those who are Jesus followers I would also do a study on gods and how we are not to be controlled by anything but the One True God.

    • Tim Elmore on October 14, 2013 at 12:54 pm

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Just to share my experience with the use of phones at work, I have found that allowing our team to use their phones for important matters is okay as long as that line is not abused. I feel fortunate that our team respects that standard and we have not encountered any issues. However, I understand that if it becomes a problem with your employees or with kids, firmer measures may have to be taken.

  3. Jonathan Yoder on October 11, 2013 at 7:02 pm

    These are great thoughts! I really appreciate this article! I think step in making eye contact is very important as many people (adult and kid alike) don’t value this as much. Thanks!

    • Tim Elmore on October 14, 2013 at 1:04 pm

      Great thoughts Jonathan. You’re right on, I have also noticed that many (students especially) struggle with eye-contact in a “human interaction” situation as they are so used to digital interaction. Of course there are the exceptions, but I have seen this becoming a trend in relation to declining emotional intelligence.

  4. Blane on October 12, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    If a young person (who is not your own child) is unwilling to limit his or her “screen time,” what do you do?

  5. Jack William on November 22, 2021 at 3:55 am

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What Can We Do with an Addiction to Technology?