CAMH social worker Lisa Pont is literally on the front lines, working with people, in particular young people, experiencing the problematic use of screens. She is one of the staff at CAMH’s Problem Gambling Institute of Ontario.

The time has come for school boards in this province to introduce media literacy or healthy technology use into the curriculum, she says.

“We need to talk about the impact that technology has on mood and relationships, how we socialize, and what are safe views, and unsafe views,” she says. “What is healthy use, and unhealthy use, and how can we promote a balanced life in this area?”

It’s even more vital now that kids be taught about how to be in control of their technology – as opposed to the technology being in control of them. That’s more a discussion to have with kids, covering the issues that are going on with them psychologically. What are the things kids feel compelled to check, so they can make more informed choices about how to use their technology?

Lisa has done a lot of work in counseling, outreach, community work and training, so her perspective and work in this area is that much more relevant.

A key for teachers – it’s important to take a balanced view with regards to tech use, because it’s not all negative. How has technology improved kids’ lives, if used responsibly?

“If we take the stand, as adults, parents, counselors, that it’s all bad, then you are just going to alienate the kids,” Lisa says. “We are just going to sound like dinosaurs.”

Play up the positives – that people can find communities online, people with similar interests. There is a tremendous access to information. They can go ask questions about their identity, their sexuality, safely, without fear of being bullied or exposed. “They can dip their toe in the water,” she says. There are so many engaging forms of leisure, if used in a balanced way, and you can communicate with friends and family around the world.

“The pitfalls are becoming more obvious and are being well discussed,” Lisa says. “But where would our lives be without Google?”

The issue of the connection between gambling addiction among adults and the roots of online gaming, and the dangers inherent for young people, is at the forefront of her work, as well.

More on that in the coming weeks.

Read our summary of the RSPH study to familiarize yourself with the some of the key factors behind the importance of this issue.





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