Is your teen spending too much time glued to their cell phone? Are you worried about teenage cell phone addiction and the effects it can have on your child? It can be really scary to watch your child losing control and getting lost in their phone screen. We’ve put together everything you need to know as a parent about teenage cell phone addiction and a list of ways to overcome it.
The statistics of teenage cell phone addiction are staggering. The pressure teens feel to stay connected via their smartphones is overwhelming. According to the Common Sense Media Report:
- 50% of teens “feel addicted” to mobile devices.
- 59% of parents surveyed believe that kids are addicted to their devices.
- 72% of teens feel the need to immediately respond to texts, social-networking messages, and other notifications.
- 78% of teens check their devices at least hourly.
- 92% of teens go online daily, while 24 percent consider themselves to be online “almost constantly”.
- 92% of teens access the internet via their smartphones at least once a day, if not more.
- Facebook is the most-commonly visited social media site for teens (71%), followed by Instagram (52%), and then Snapchat (44%).
A 2016 report published in Frontiers in Psychiatry suggests using the DSM-5 criteria for problematic cell phone usage as well as compulsive gambling and substance abuse. Under this model, problematic cell phone use is considered a behavioral disorder, not an addiction.
Using this model, potential symptoms might include the following:
- Problems and conscious use in dangerous situations or in prohibited contexts.
- Social and family conflicts and confrontations, as well as loss of interest in other activities.
- Continuing behavior despite the negative effects and/or personal malaise it causes.
- Harm, physical, mental, social, work, or family disturbances.
- Frequent and constant checking of phone in very brief periods of time with insomnia and sleep disturbances.
- Increase in use to achieve satisfaction or relaxation or to counteract a dysphoric mood.
- Excessive use, urgency, need to be connected.
- Need to respond immediately to messages, preferring the cell phone to personal contact.
- Anxiety, irritability if cell phone is not accessible, feelings of unease when unable to use it.
It may be difficult to recognize some of these symptoms in your teen as many of them can just look like typical teenage behavior. So, it is important that you ask yourself the following:
- Does my teen become irritable, anxious, angry, possibly even violent when their phone is taken away from them?
- Is my teen’s friendships, family relationships, or school work negatively impacted by their cell phone use?
- Does my teen skip or avoid social events with friends or extracurricular activities to use their smartphone instead?
- Is cell phone use interfering with my teen’s sleep routine?
- Are there any major changes to my teen’s mood that have no other explanation?
- Are there any major changes to my teen’s eating habits?
Up until around the age of 25-years-old, a person’s brain isn’t fully developed. If a child or teenager suffers from cell phone addiction, it could have negative implications on brain development.
Some of the effects of teenage cell phone addiction include decreased brain connectivity in the parts of the brain that regulate emotions, decision-making, and impulse-control. They also have an increased likelihood to consume alcohol and use tobacco, have poor dietary habits, and social loneliness.
Additionally, addiction to a cell phone could lead to a number of harmful consequences such as:
- Text neck- Neck pain from looking down at a cell phone for too long.
- Digital eye strain- Burning and itching of eyes and blurred vision from looking at a screen for at least 2 hours.
- Car accidents- Research has revealed that texting and driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving.
How To Overcome Teen Cell Phone Addiction:
– Make a Plan
Include your teen on a plan for limiting their cell phone and screen time with other devices. Talk to them about their health and well-being, and how you want them to flourish and succeed. Smartphone use has a lot of positive benefits when used safely, such as peer to peer engagement and support, creativity, and help with school assignments. Talk to them about how many times a day they will be able to use their phones.
– Monitor Activity
Use a parental monitoring app like, PhoneSpector to control and monitor their screen time and phone activity. Parents are able to see activities including texts, private messages, web browsing history, social media, photos, videos and more. All of your teen’s activity will go right to your PhoneSpector account dashboard.
– Remove Devices at Night
Remove all smartphones, laptops, and tablets from your teens’ bedrooms after a certain time at night. Let them wind down without the stimulation from scrolling. Get them back on track with a sleep schedule.
– Create Screen Free Zones
Make the dinner table, social gatherings, and family time a screen free zone. Encourage your child to communicate the old fashioned way. In creating these screen free zones, you as the parent will need to follow the same rules and set a good example. No phones at the table!
– Therapy or a Rehabilitation Center
If you are still having trouble separating your child from their smartphone addiction and their behavior is not changing, then you should consider sending them to therapy. There are also inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation centers that specialize in teenage cell phone addiction. There are many different ways to support your teen with professional help and guidance.
Teenage cell phone addiction is extremely unhealthy and can cost your child their life if they are texting and driving. With a monitoring app like PhoneSpector, you can manage your teen’s screen time and help them get control of their cell phone addiction. Help them to regain control of their life and make a plan. Nothing in the world is as important as the health, happiness. and well-being as your child.