No-Phone Zones: It’s Not Just About the Kids

In a recent piece written for the New York Times, Perri Klass, MD lays out ideas for 5 device-free spaces for families. The article does not directly focus on getting our children off of the devices. Rather, parental media use is the focal point.

He starts with Common Sense Media’s 2016 survey indicating that parents spend over 9 hours per day consuming media. About an hour-and-a-half of that time is work-related. The vast majority of time parents spend consuming media is personal.

What sort of model does that provide to our children?

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Posted in Digital Citizenship, Parenting, Psychology of Technology Tagged with: ,

What your data don’t know: Evidence-based treatment and providing best care

In the article What your therapist doesn’t know, author and psychologist Tony Rousmaniere argues that therapists should incorporate metrics — data collected from questionnaires and similar measurement instruments — into our practice. In general, I very much agree with him, although it’s a complex topic with no easy answers. Rousmaniere, while advocating for utilizing metric-based feedback in treatment decisions, does a good job laying out both pros and cons. On the one hand, more and more fields are utilizing metrics as feedback to alter and improve performance, including health care. On the other hand, psychotherapy is an extraordinarily complex and individualized piece of work that might not lend itself to influence by statistical analysis. Before fully embracing data-based treatment, I think it’s important to consider a number of factors.

Speaking as a dataphile, the idea of utilizing objective information to improve my clinical work is fantastic. However, I’m not quite diving into the world of metric-based treatment right away. There are a couple of problems I have with it, particularly in the context of psychotherapy.

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Posted in Treatment Thoughts Tagged with: ,

Neurofeedback gets political?

While I tend to keep my political views out of my professional work, I find myself tentatively venturing into the muck of some current politics with my clinician’s hat firmly on. A recent series of articles has examined a connection between Betsy DeVos, the (at this moment) nominee for education secretary and a company that provides neurofeedback and biofeedback services. Articles like What the heck is neurofeedback? from a site called Motherboard (update: the article seems to have disappeared) or DeVos-Backed Company Makes Questionable Claims on Autism, ADHD from the Education Week site don’t really bother me too much. And in fact these have been well rebutted by the International Society for Neurofeedback and Research.

However, once the New York Times got into the game I felt obliged to respond. The language of the article (actually all the articles I’ve read) is clearly designed to suggest there is something wrong with DeVos’ relationship with the company Neurocore. I am not here to comment on politics, DeVos’ qualifications, whether her relationship with Neurocore is problematic or whether Neurocore does good work.

Rather, I am here to discuss Neurofeedback. Because the New York Times article seems to be attempting to criticize DeVos’ relationship by delegitimizing neurofeedback as an effective treatment for numerous conditions. I would like to consider several points in the article. Read more ›

Posted in Treatment Thoughts Tagged with:

Parental Controls: Tools for Parents or Spies?

One of the issues that almost always comes up when parents find out I specialize in Internet addiction is whether parental controls and monitoring apps work. I’ve come to realize that what many parents are really saying to me is, “I don’t know how to make sure my child only accesses safe Internet material and I’m pretty sure my kid will get around any control I set up anyway but I don’t know what else to do. Help!”

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Posted in Digital Citizenship, Parenting Tagged with: ,

Parenting the Connected Child: Five Tips for Developing Responsible Digital Citizens

It’s an old adage that kids think they are smarter than their parents but that either over time or in any one of countless sit-com scenarios, they realize they are wrong, wrong wrong.

Except when it comes to technology.

Kids often really do know much more about technology than their parents. As a developmental and clinical psychologist, I find this a fascinating phenomena that has significant implications for growth, health and society.

As a parent, it freaks me out.

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Posted in Parenting Tagged with: ,

I See. I Want. I Grab.

Impulsivity and Internet Addiction

A child sees a lollipop in a candy store and grabs it. A driver sees an opening in the next lane and cuts off another driver. A mom sees the latest must-have handbag at the park and within seconds she’s hitting BUY NOW on her phone. Impulsivity always follows the same sequence: I See It. I Want It. I Grab for It. We’ve all been impulsive at one time or another, usually without too many bad consequences. Unfortunately, if a person can’t control their impulsivity, they are likely to get into trouble.

As a specialist in the field of Internet Addiction, I see over and over that it’s this lack of impulse control that is the often-overlooked root cause behind all forms of Problematic Technology Overuse from online porn addiction to compulsive shopping.

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Posted in Internet Addiction Tagged with: , ,

Ourselves, Our iPhones. Are digital devices an extension of the self?

Recently, the Boston Globe and its affiliated web site ( ran some articles relating to the problems of tech overuse. They got me thinking about how our devices have evolved (some might say morphed) into an extension of ourselves and our social world.

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Posted in Psychology of Technology

Why I started Digital Media Health

Twelve or thirteen years ago, a 12-year-old boy and his parents came to my office complaining he was so anxious that he was unable to get out of bed and go to school. He also reported he couldn’t face his homework, found it difficult to concentrate, was not sleeping well and was increasingly irritable. Not long before he had been a good student, a voracious reader, emotionally stable and gave his parents few problems. In short, he had quickly gone from a ‘good’ kid to a ‘troubled’ one. Initially his parents thought the changes were related to puberty, but as his school performance plummeted and he started refusing to go, they realized something more significant was at play.

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Posted in Digital Citizenship, Internet Addiction Tagged with: ,