OPINION

Is device addiction destroying your family?

Do you feel like you are second priority to your partner or kids after their phone?

The term phubbed means you are being phone snubbed.

Do you try not to be a nag?

Do you feel as though you should just accept the clutch of devices on your family?

More and more people are complaining that their partners or children turn to their devices mid-conversation.

It is causing some couples to be increasingly frustrated, and it can lead to ongoing tension and conflict within a family.

In terms of mental health, people who are unable to resist the subconscious urge to reach for their phone enjoy spending time with others less than people who are not addicted to their device.

While there is no denying our devices are useful, understanding when they carry us away from shared moments and being able to tame the addictive urge to reach for our phone is an essential lesson for every member of a family (grandparents included)!

While there is no denying our devices are useful, understanding when they carry us away from shared moments and being able to tame the addictive urge to reach for our phone is an essential lesson for every member of a family.

Research shows that without us realising, devices have become a way of handling uncomfortable emotions.

They take us out of the situation immediately and over time we become less able to handle discomfort without the crutch of our phone.

As a result, we see rising levels of addiction, anxiety and depression.

When we look at 14 to 17-year-olds, students who overuse their screens show less curiosity, lower self-control, are more distractible, and they are less likely to finish tasks.

As parents, we are the first generation that has had to understand and work out how to harness our devices.

We need to choose when we use them and not have them invade every aspect of our lives.

The good news is that we can make changes to improve the lives of our family and safeguard them from the darker consequences of device addiction.

The first step is to understand the dopamine dip.

Consider for a moment how much less irritable we feel when we raise our attention from a crossword or a newspaper, compared to reading on a device.

This may be because it's harder to find our place again on a device, but it is also because of the dopamine effect that we get from screen use.

When we reach for our phone to open a message we get a dopamine "hit".

When that message is disappointing we get a "dip" in our mood.

The actual hook is the "dip" that occurs when we are disappointed because we try to escape it and turn back to our phone.

There is a free two minute video that explains just how "the dopamine dip" glues you to your phone on www.thedip.com Once you watch the video, you will be two steps ahead of managing the unstoppable urge to pick up your phone.

Then devise a family action plan.

The Dip is a concise book which shows parents how to guide a healthy separation of their teenagers (and partners) from devices.

The book lays out the issues that parents need to consider before putting a device plan in place.

It guides the reader through options of "how to" make changes in their homes.

In his independent review of the book, Children and Family Ministries director Pr Daron Pratt wrote:

"The Dip would have to be the best book I have read on screen addiction and family.

"Clinical psychologist Dr Danielle Einstein outlines simple practical steps that individuals can take to reclaim their families from the grip of the insidious screen addiction creep.

"The book is a short and easy read but packs a lot of punch. I recommend that every family gets a copy and reads it before having a family meeting to create their own tech agreement."

We are launching a movement on "The Dip Community" Facebook page to help families make changes (whether it be in their own use, their partners or their children).

A challenge will be run and advice is provided on how to manage the difficulties that come up.

There is a balance that is right for every family, and it can be found.

Being equipped and aware will help you work together to reconnect your family.

Dr Danielle Einstein is a clinical psychologist specialising in teenage mental health.