Our Stealth American Plague

An Important Message to Parents of Teens Who Appear Addicted to Digital Technology

I’d like to welcome guest blogger, Trace Embry. Take a look at his bio at the end of this post and you’ll see why he knows what he’s talking about in this article.

If you’re pulling your hair out because communication2your adolescent is glued to technology or an electronic screen of some sort, then this is for you. It will open your eyes to what’s really going on.

“Have you ever wondered why kids, today, are so easily bored? Why they can’t walk across the street or do homework without headphones? Why they appear to be addicted to anything with a screen or keyboard?

And, if you’ve wondered how and why America has gone from 1st to 26th in education compared to other countries around the world in just a generation, then you may want to read the rest of this article.

Working with teens and their families for well over 20 years, I’ve noticed a swing in attitudes, appetites, habits and addictions that are congruent with the proliferation of digital technology and the the myriad devices that have proliferated along with them.

I would maintain that our current digital invasion has descended upon the American landscape so fast that we never really took the time to think things through before indiscriminately handing out untold numbers of unencumbered and addictive digital devices to our kids.

Consequently, we are now up against an epidemic that doctors have only just begun to realize as being systemic in our society.

In his books, Thrilled to Death and The Digital Invasion, I feel Dr. Archibald Hart has put his finger on the crux of our stealth American plague.

Dr. Hart claims that 80% of Americans are suffering from a condition known as anhedonia. I would say that in the teen population—unless one is Amish—it’s virtually 100%. It’s just a matter of degree.

Anhedonia is paralleled with the better-known term “digital dementia” or another clinical term “neural-atrophy”—though these three aren’t exactly the same thing.

Historically, doctors understood anhedonia to be the destruction of the pleasure center in the brain that brings about a person’s inability to experience pleasure—a byproduct of depression, drug addiction or schizophrenia. But, Hart is claiming there’s a 21st century anhedonia that works just the opposite way.

Schizophrenia, depression and addiction are now very often the manifestation of the new 21st century anhedonia—induced by a glut of digital stimuli that the brain was never designed to endure.

Unwittingly, doctors are adding insult to injury by prescribing medication for all kinds of mood disorders that many kids likely don’t need—and they’re exacerbating the problem.

Until our nation’s parents understand and deal with the anhedonic state of their children by exercising wise digital protocol in their homes for this systemic problem, they will continue to spin their wheels wondering why Junior can’t pay attention; won’t engage in conversation; is sullen and withdrawn: hates himself and everyone around him: escapes into a world of sex, drugs and rock and roll; and, refuses to do anything productive with his life.

The reason is—he can’t.

Biologically, his brain chemistry has turned him into an adrenaline junkie. Digital addiction has tampered with his critical, constructive and creative thinking capacities.

Unfortunately, we parents are too often the dealers of this neurologically addictive substance called digital technology when we give our kids smart phones—what should be considered digitally addictive adult toys.

For perspective, it’s against the law for kids to gamble under the age of 21!

And though giving our kids unencumbered access to a smart phone is like giving them Ted Bundy, Charles Manson and Sodom and Gomorrah in their back pockets—a neural-chemical disaster in it’s own rite—it’s the length of time our kids are on these devices that’s arguably as dangerous as anything.

Parents—especially Christian parents—will need to consider an entirely different attitude and approach when it comes to wise protocol with these things.

For a good start, you can go to licensetoparent.org and look for the Ten Tough Technology Tips.”

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trace-embryTrace Embry is the founder and director of Shepherd’s Hill Academy—a Christ-centered residential therapeutic treatment program and school for troubled teenagers, located 90 miles north of Atlanta, Georgia. He is also the host of the nationally syndicated, License to Parent radio broadcast, which takes his years of knowledge and experience from inside the gates of SHA and brings it to listeners all across the country and around the world. Trace and his wife, Beth, have 5 children and 4 grandchildren.


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3 thoughts on “Our Stealth American Plague

  1. Thank you so much! This is encouraging and motivating, this is a situation I am struggling in with my teenagers. I would love more information, so I can educate myself, help my children and other mums.

    • I’m so glad it was helpful, Paulina. I would urge you to go to Trace’s website and check out his podcasts and blogs. They will educate you so you can help your children.

    • Paulina,
      Did you find more information and help from Trace Embry’s website? Let me know if we can be of any further help.