Whether you’re a parent, a teacher, a coach, an employer or a youth worker, life becomes frustrating when you have a young person in front of you who is addicted to something. When I was growing up, addictions existed just like they do today, but there were fewer of them and they were less widespread. Back in the 1970s, the top ones, predictably, were smoking, drinking and drugs.
According to a recent poll, the most common addictions for today’s teens are:
1. Alcohol 6. Video Games
2. Smoking 7. Internet
3. Drugs 8. Sex
4. Gambling 9. Shopping
5. Social media 10. Eating
So, why is addictive behavior more prevalent today? I think there are a number of reasons. First, technology has given our culture not only more free time, but more elements to get addicted to—such as internet pornography, video games, and, yes, even Facebook. Second, our culture finds it necessary today to depend on virtual or artificial means to be happy or stay entertained. In times past, kids would make up games out in the yard or on the ball field. Today—we give them all kinds of artificial and external stimulation that can, in the end, become addictive. More so than the labor involved in playing “army” or softball or four square outside. Kids today experience passive stimuli that can cause obesity, apathy and addictions.
Please understand that I’m not suggesting all the items on the list above are evil. When used legally and in moderation, they can be fine. Sadly, many children and teens have no caring adults to guide them into healthy habits and moderation when it comes to technology or free time. I want to challenge you to be intentional when it comes to talking about these potential addictions with your students. Tomorrow, I will blog about six steps you can take, as an adult, to help them through addictions.
For now, I’d like to hear your thoughts about addictions. Do you think they are more widespread now than thirty or thirty-five years ago? Why or why not?