Clifford Sussman, MD (Child, Adolescent, and Adult Psychiatrist, Internet and Gaming Addiction Specialist, Volunteer Clinical Faculty, George Washington University), discusses effective treatments for digital addictions that balance highly stimulating and delayed-gratification activities, versus screen time elimination, at the #AskTheExperts webinar “Screen Extremes: Children and Digital Addictions” on August 31, 2023.
[Dr. Clifford Sussman] You know, my approach to treating this and to dealing with it is to try and not just eliminate screen use altogether, because that would be very impractical in today’s day and age. I mean, we’ve gotten very dependent as a society on our digital technology for functioning. So what I do is really focus on trying to get a balance between what I refer to as high-dopamine activity and low-dopamine activity. And the goal of treatment is really to help my patients balance the two. So by high-dopamine activity, what I’m talking about is activities that are instantly and continuously stimulating, like music, playing a video game or being on TikTok, whereas a low-dopamine activity is activity that requires more patience, where we have to put more effort into get what we want, where there’s more delay in our gratification, such as doing homework or doing exercise or maybe playing a musical instrument. And the reason I don’t just separate it into screen activities and non-screen activities is because you can actually do a low-dopamine activity on a screen. Doing coding, for example, or making these PowerPoints could be a low-dopamine activity that you do on a screen. The problem is if you’re doing a lot of your low-dopamine activity time on a screen, you’re also going to have all these other temptations on the screen. We are going to have such easy access to the Internet and everything else that that’s at that device.
View the Full Webinar
Many children and teens spend several hours daily on screens for entertainment. When does heavy use of digital media turn into an addiction, and what can parents do?
Marc N. Potenza, MD, PhD
Albert E. Kent Professor of Psychiatry, Director
Naomi Fineberg, MBBS, MA, MRCPsych
Professor of Psychiatry; Consultant Psychiatrist
Jason Nagata, MD, MSc
Associate Professor of Pediatrics
Clifford Sussman, MD
Child, Adolescent, and Adult Psychiatrist; Internet and Gaming Addiction Specialist; Volunteer Clinical Faculty
Video gaming addiction speaker, author, and coach; Family Coach