Teenagers today have a complex relationship with technology. Not only is technology intricately intertwined with learning and classroom activities, but it’s also a major part of a teenager’s social life. Teenagers also tend to use smartphones for personal organization through scheduling and calendar apps. But are phones becoming a problem for teens who can’t put them down?
Teen Smartphone Addiction
Recent surveys have determined that half of teenagers with smartphones feel addicted to them, and more than half of parents surveyed think that their kids are addicted to their mobile devices. Nearly three-fourths of teenagers and almost half of parents feel that they need to respond immediately to notifications such as texts and social media messages.
- In a 2018 research report, 45 percent of teenagers polled report that they use the Internet “almost constantly.”
- Research indicates that girls use the Internet slightly more than boys.
- Because teenagers use their smartphones for both personal and academic reasons, it’s more effective to monitor how they use their devices instead of counting minutes.
Signs and Symptoms of Smartphone Addiction
Problematic use of a smartphone is not defined as a true addiction by professional psychological standards, but it could be treated as a behavioral disorder. Imbalanced smartphone use may include the following symptoms:
- Use of a smartphone during times when use is prohibited or dangerous
- Use that causes conflicts with family, possibly involving withdrawal from events
- Negative effects on school, family, and social situations and continued use despite these effects
- Constant checking of the phone
- Sleep disturbances due to constant checking of the phone
- A strong need to be connected via the phone
- Increased use to achieve satisfaction or to counteract sadness
- Need to respond immediately to messages
- Irritability if the smartphone is inaccessible
- Unease when unable to use the smartphone
Helping a Child or Teen With Smartphone Addiction
Use of a smartphone has many benefits, and some teenagers are able to keep their use within healthy limits. Parents can encourage teenagers to maintain a healthy balance with ongoing conversations and continued support.
- Talk about the benefits and pitfalls of mobile device use. Strive to have a conversation instead of delivering a lecture.
- Create a plan together to institute healthy limits on smartphones for everyone in the family, including parents.
- Spy apps are a popular method of monitoring smartphone use, but use of these apps can cause teenagers to be sneaky. Instead, talk about screen time limits, and openly monitor your child’s smartphone activity with software and apps designed to report phone use. Choose an app that monitors how and when teenagers use their phones, and make an agreement to shut off the phone at certain times.
- Keep electronic devices out of the bedroom to avoid sleep disturbances.
- Establish times and places where screens aren’t allowed, such as at meals and social gatherings.
- Set a healthy example of device use for children.
Treatment Options for Smartphone Addiction
If a teenager needs more help to reduce their smartphone use, it’s possible to get specialized treatment. Both individual and group therapy can be effective ways to control use of technology.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy helps people learn ways to stop compulsive behaviors. This therapy can help change perceptions about smartphone use as well as teach healthier ways to cope with uncomfortable emotions.
- Group therapy can also be helpful, and this type of therapy is available both online and in face-to-face meetings. It’s important to meet in person with a group whenever possible, since online groups may lead to spending more time on a smartphone.
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- Addicted to Your Smartphone? Half of Teens in U.S. and Japan Say They Are
- Cell Phone Addiction: The Statistics of Gadget Dependency
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- The Impact of Smartphones and Mobile Devices on Human Health and Life
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- The Effects of Smartphones on Social Lives: How They Affect Our Social Interactions and Attitudes
- The Teenage Brain on Social Media
- The Scientific Debate Over Teens, Screens, and Mental Health