Digital Cocaine – Part 2

people using their smartphones

By: Brad Huddleston

In part 1, I established that, scientifically, brain scans of digital addicts are the same as those of cocaine or heroin addicts, as illustrated on the cover of Digital Cocaine by a thirteen-year-old boy snorting zeros and ones from his smartphone. 

You might be thinking (and I hope you are), “How can I tell if my child is addicted to their technology? I can’t afford a brain scan.” 

Now we’re getting somewhere with God. 

First, you must ask yourself a question before thinking about your children. If you’ve ever flown, you know that in the event of an unlikely emergency, if the oxygen masks drop, you must put one on yourself before you put one on your child. It’s the same principle here. You have to determine your level of digital addiction before you try to deal with anyone else’s. Otherwise, you will not handle them correctly. And you don’t need a brain scan to determine whether or not you’re addicted to your gadgets, including television. 

The first step is to ask a trusted and honest friend if they think you’re addicted. Rule number one is not to get mad at their response, especially if they acknowledge you have an issue with having too much screen time. The second and most simple step is going without your devices for two days. If you have anxiety and find yourself making many excuses (even legitimate ones) as to why you must have your device(s), then you have an addiction. Notice I said “legitimate” excuses. I am not necessarily saying you’re sinning with your devices. I’m only saying you’re addicted. 

Our brains do not give us a pass because our interaction with technology is legitimate. The truth is, whenever we interact with our screens, we experience too much stimulation, regardless of the content. So, for example, when parents say to me, “I only allow my child to use devices for ‘educational purposes,'” I don’t believe them. Well, I do, and I don’t. I think they use their technology for education, but you and I know they’re also using it for many other things. 

I digress. 

Before we move on to dealing with children, it might surprise you that globally, the average age of a video gamer is 35. In other words, video gaming is more of a problem among adults than children. And in my experience, mothers are just as addicted to social media as their daughters, which is another reason parents must deal with their digital addiction before dealing with their children. You can’t have a parenting model that says, “Do as I say, not as I do.” Parents have to be the example of Jesus in the home. 

The second step is to take devices away from children and teens politely. If they react with tantrums, anger, violence, etc., they’re addicted. No brain scans are needed. 

So, what do we do about it? In short, we must go through a thorough digital detox. Then, just as when an alcoholic dries out, we must stay out of the bar. Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26 (NIV) 

During the next two months, I’ll delve deeper into solutions for digital addiction from my new book, Digital Rehab: Learning to Live Again in the Real World. For more information, visit

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