Understanding Technology's Impact on Youth: Attachment Theory as a Framework for Conceptualizing Adolescents' Relationship with Their Mobile Devices

David R. Hodge, Molly M. Gebler-Wolfe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Most adolescents have mobile devices (e.g., smartphones) and daily access to the internet. Scholars, however, have only recently begun to consider the impact of this technology on youth. This article draws on attachment theory to explain how adolescents' attachment styles may be represented in their attachment to technology. The authors posit that the attachment framework used to describe the relationship between infants and their primary caregivers can also be used to explain the relationship between adolescents and their mobile devices, and then describe and illustrate what secure and insecure attachment to these devices may look like for adolescents. By providing a theoretical lens through which to view this emerging topic, interventions at the micro and macro levels can be created to counter the detrimental effects of technology use on youth. For instance, at the micro level, practitioners might work with parents to cocreate strategies to facilitate salutary smartphone use. At the macro level, social workers might consider advocating for policies that protect children from the application of technologies that are designed to exploit their developmental, psychological, and neurobiological vulnerabilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)153-162
Number of pages10
JournalChildren and Schools
Volume44
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2022

Keywords

  • adolescents
  • attachment theory
  • cell phones
  • smartphones
  • technology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Education

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