Childhood phone addiction has spread to become a serious issue facing most, if not all parents. If you’ve raised a teenager in the 21st century, this is not news for you.
Have you engaged in frustrating confrontations with your child about their phone usage? Does your kid spend hours on his or her phone? Is your teenager getting enough sleep? Exercise? Is homework getting done? All these are signs of childhood phone addiction.
How does childhood phone addiction work?
Cell phone addiction has become so common over the last decade. At this point, it’s hard to overcome the nuisance because cell phones have become an endemic part of our modern world. In fact, childhood phone addiction has also been categorized as a modern phenomenon.
It even places many conventional norms to the test. Back in the 90’s parents were only worried about nicotine, heroin, or cocaine. But from 2005 to date, the addiction landscape shifted and took a different turn. Teens started getting tethered to their phones for up to an average of eight hours a day.
According to a recent study executed by Common Sense Media, it was revealed that 72 percent of teenagers feel as though they have to respond immediately to messages and notifications on their phone. Worst yet, 59 percent of parents were convinced that their kids were addicted to their mobile devices.
The figures are quite steep and concerning. And something ought to be done.
Do you permit your teenager to use their phones for four to eight hours straight each night? Is it even healthy to be occupied by screens? The reality is no, it is not.
And phones have become so universal that managing the disorder has become problematic.
How far does childhood phone addiction extend?
Childhood phone addiction extends well beyond talking and texting, nowadays, it includes games, applications, and more importantly, social media platforms. For teenagers, phones are the new way to criticize, comment, approve, or admire. Do not be fooled into thinking they are always communicating with friends. More often than not, they are commenting on their day to day activities. They are also fishing for likes and supportive comments for their own posts.
There is even a genetic component to these actions. The human brain reacts to smartphones the same way it does to drugs. Extensive studies have proved that both the cell phone alert for a new text and ringing calls cause the brain to release dopamine.
What was supposed to be a benefit for the human generation has descended into an obsession for our children. Take the smartphone app Snapchat (a photo-sharing service) for instance. The app has disclosed that teenagers utilize the application more than 18 times a day.
Childhood phone addiction – a Behavioral Disorder
The clinical realm classifies childhood phone addiction as a behavioral disorder. These types of disorder imply that the obsessive usage of a certain device affects day to day functioning. Like all other addictions, once it gets triggered, it can be quite challenging to put a halt to.
Childhood phone addiction nowadays extends beyond just using the smartphone to communicate. In fact, talking on the phone is way common among teens compared to adults.
Childhood cell phone addiction includes compulsive and repetitive use of the technology for other disturbing activities. Behaviors like these are perfectly normal when executed in moderation. But when they’re tied to an obsessive compulsion, they become quite dangerous.
A teenager’s uncontrolled usage of smartphones usually descends into cell phone addiction; and as a result, these behaviors get in the way of them interacting with the real world.
What are the signs of childhood phone addiction?
Does your child repeat or exhibit any of the following characters over and over again? They could be indications that they have a smartphone addiction.
- Constantly checking for incoming messages and texting with friends
- Watching videos or listening to music using headphones throughout the day
- Checking social media accounts or email ever several minutes
- Playing interactive multiplayer and single player video games
- Getting frustrated when their cell phone battery life is about to die
If you think cell phone addiction is affecting a person you love, then you’re not alone. As the survey from Common Sense Media exhibited, it is a common worry among more than 50 percent of parents.
Another recent poll also revealed that 50 percent of teenagers are convinced that they are addicted to their smartphones.
In fact, a third of this figure confessed that they tried cutting down the amount of time they’re spending on their smartphones but most of them failed to change. They said that symptoms of teenage cell phone addiction were quite contradictory.
The teenagers could not imagine spending time without their phones, but at the same time, most of them felt like their phones were a burden.
Statistics that show Cell Phone Addiction is an issue in our society
- 44 percent of teenagers use their smartphones even at the dinner table
- 30 percent of both parents and teenagers claim that they argue about cell phones and mobile devices on a daily basis
- 77 percent of parents are convinced their teens are constantly distracted by their smartphones. For instance, they even fail to greet other people at family events
- 44 percent of teenagers think they spend an unhealthy amount of time on their phones
- 72 percent of teenagers feel an urgent need to respond to texts immediately
- 78 percent of teenagers must check their phones at least hourly
- 59 percent of parents are convinced their teenagers are addicted to their smartphones
These statistics are no surprise, given cell phones are the primary means of communications and attaining information for teenagers. Texting is today’s the most common way that teenagers communicate.
Taking this reality into account, it’s no wonder most parents have failed terribly at controlling their children’s cell phone usage.
How teenage cell phone addiction takes our children out of the moment
Smartphone addiction drains our children’s attention. Teenagers’ intense concentration on cell phones distracts them. They are no longer present in their day to day life. Once a smartphone addiction sets in, the victim’s entire behavior changes.
Grades at school start to drop and the kid’s participation in extracurricular activities starts to diminish. Did you know that 61 percent of teenagers confessed that smartphone use was having a negative impact on their studies?
Louis C.K, the comedian, does not even let his children use smartphones. “I think these devices are toxic, especially for our children,” he said. “Everyone needs the ability to just be themselves without doing anything and that is what cell phones are taking away from children; the ability to just sit there, and be themselves,” he added.
He hates the idea of children getting tethered to their smartphones. It makes them less human, less empathetic, and less reflective.
Teenage smartphone addiction and its co-occurring disorders
Childhood phone addition goes hand in hand with substance abuse and mental health issues. For instance, anxiety augments when the smartphone is not readily available for your kid. Worst yet, depression deepens with lack of human contact.
Take a look at this recent study executed on mobile devices. The study was executed by Alejandro Lleras, a psychology professor at the University of Illinois. The report was even published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.
In his study, Lleras surveyed around 300 university students. His goal was to examine children’s high engagement with mobile phones and the internet. Did they affect the student’s psychological well-being? He wondered.
Lleras said, “students who self-described themselves as exhibiting very addictive style behaviors towards their cell phones and the internet scored way higher on anxiety and depression scales.”
Childhood cell phone addiction is linked to OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder.) Continuous smartphone usage is a potent driver for making the condition worse.
More often than not, those with OCD must have their issues organized in a specified manner, smartphone addiction fosters a compulsive behavior pattern. The teenager in question feels the need to have his/her smartphone with him/her at all times.
The smartphone, like a drug, gets promoted to a way of escaping reality and stress. It alters the perspective of the victim and creates a barrier between the person and the real world.
For parents intending to help their children balance life in the real world and online, there is a way to ensure your teenagers do not succumb to cell phone addiction. Limit their screen time from a young age and encourage them to start creating connections with real people through face to face interactions. That’s one of the best ways to keep this new technology from becoming a terror in your household.
And that solution is not just effective on teenagers. If you are also beginning to feel like you are a little too attached to your own cell phone, it may be high time that you step outside, grab yourself some lunch with a colleague, and reconnect with the real world.