Digital withdrawal mimics that of substance abuse

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — A reality in this fast-paced digital age is increased pressure for kids and teens and higher levels of anxiety and depression.

A lecture at Southern Connecticut State University focused on this topic Thursday. One of the classrooms inside the student center was packed, despite it being winter break for students and faculty.

Marcus Stallworth, a social worker, presented the discussion. He said the mental health of teens and adults today is affected by how connected they are to their devices.

Social media and technology has an impact on how they see the world, interact with relationships and often times self evaluate,” Stallworth told News 8.

That effect is not always a positive one. Shamariah Gariente is a student at SCSU and said she knows firsthand.

“You have this image that this is what you’re supposed to look like and wonder, ‘Do I fit in with that? Should I be smaller or bigger?'” Gariente said. “You have to have the confidence that you are good enough, which is hard because that’s not what social media portrays.”

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Stallworth mentioned another eye-opening reality – digital addiction.

“Some of the uses and deficits that children or adults are experiencing echo and mirror substance abuse withdrawals in a lot of ways,” Stallworth added. “Anxiety-producing feelings and emotions when without devices impacts mood and behavior and increases aggression.”

Tia-Simone Gardner said it can be hard to put down your devices in an ever-connected world.

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“With the younger generations, it’s definitely skyrocketing,” Gardner said.

Stallworth said parents know their children better than anyone and need to keep an open dialogue, especially when something doesn’t seem quite right.

“Don’t be afraid – you have permission to be a parent,” Stallworth said.

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