With the continuous efforts to improve technology, people can communicate and interact with family and friends despite being physically absent. For most teens, cell phones are considered a vital part of their lives.
Today’s generation has normalized that parents have to provide their children with mobile phones as early as eight years old. According to the Pew Research Center, the average age of phone users for adolescents is 12 to 13 years old. Schools often encourage students to do their tasks on their computers and phones through school apps and websites. When it comes to social interactions, teens communicate with their peers through networking sites such as Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter.
Unfortunately, cell phones have become addictive for most teenagers. According to statistics, 59% of parents feel that their teens have a smartphone addiction. 44% of teens believe they spend too much time in front of their phone screens. Furthermore, 78% of teens check their phones at least every hour, and 72% feel the urge to respond to phone notifications or texts. Most parents also feel that their children are prone to argue with them and are becoming emotionally distant, thus affecting their relationship at home.
Phones are great productivity devices, especially for students and professionals. However, teens who constantly use their phones for non-productive tasks may be considered addicted. Phone addiction is sometimes referred to as “nomophobia” (“no mobile phobia”), which means “fear of being detached or disconnected from one’s phone.” Considering the numbers, it can be concerning for parents to know that a big part of the teenage population is susceptible to having phone addiction.
As phones become widespread, it gets more complicated for parents to distinguish which usage habits are productive and which are not. Here are some signs that your teen has developed a phone addiction or is close to having one:
Teens are naturally sociable beings; they love to interact and make friends with strangers. The evolution of technology paved the way for them to find another avenue for socialization. Developers have created social websites and apps that keep peers connected, even if they are thousands of miles apart.
Most phone apps are designed to keep users coming back again and again to establish social interactions. Using these apps releases a brain chemical called dopamine. It is a neurotransmitter responsible for a person’s reactions and emotions toward specific situations. Getting positive messages or calls from friends allows for quality relationships to grow, and they tend to release dopamine. Dopamine is also responsible for developing addictions towards “enjoyable” things, such as but not limited to drugs and alcohol.
Some teens are hooked on their phones because they can get money. Online betting or gambling is rampant nowadays. In addition, online games aim to be as addictive as social media, especially role-playing games (RPG). In RPGs, players assume the roles of characters in the game, enabling them to live out their fantasies in a virtual world. While this can be fun, excessive gaming can have negative consequences, such as not being able to distinguish the virtual world from reality anymore and possibly using violent behaviors in real-life situations.
Phone addiction among teens is real, and the cases have been increasing over the years. Below are the phone addiction risks and consequences that may harm your teen’s health, safety, and well-being.
Prolonged screen time can affect physical health, especially holding the phone close to the face. The blue light from phone screens poses high risks of eye problems; it may cause short-term and long-term eye ailments such as retinal damage.
Too much phone usage may also lead to the deterioration of someone’s overall health. Here are some of the most common risks of prolonged phone usage:
Cell phone addiction is a probable cause of brain damage brought on by mental health problems. The root cause is the bright light from phones that can decrease sleep quality. Not getting enough sleep makes a person prone to behavioral problems or more serious mental health illnesses. Here are some common phone addiction issues linked to declining brain connectivity and overall mental wellness.
Teens who have a phone addiction are usually “disconnected” from the real world, and familial, platonic, and romantic relationships deteriorate as a result.
The National Safety Council reports that at least 1.6 million car accidents are due to texting or talking on the phone while driving. Around 390,000 of these crashes result in severe injuries. Furthermore, around 10% of teen drivers aged 15 to 19 get involved in fatal road accidents. On average, 11 teens die every day due to road accidents associated with cell phone usage.
Internet and phone addiction are heavily linked to risky cybersecurity behaviors. By definition, cybersecurity is the protection of online networks from personal information disclosure, identity theft, online scams, and the likes. As a parent, you have to educate your child about cybersecurity before granting them independent access and usage of their own mobile phones.
Cybercriminals are everywhere on the internet, and no one can judge by a profile picture whether someone can be trusted or not. Seemingly innocent questions like your teen’s grandmother’s name or their first pet’s name might end up being used to hack into their social accounts.
Moreover, cyberbullying is also rampant among teenagers; wherein online users send mean comments or harmful information towards others. It might cause psychological, emotional, and physical stress, leading to emotional trauma.
As soon as you see the signs and symptoms of excessive phone usage, you have to start taking steps to prevent them from developing into an addiction. Here are some intervention measures for you to consider:
Anyone with a mobile device is vulnerable to cell phone addiction. However, without parental supervision, teens are more at risk than adults. They tend to experiment with the greater possibilities of technology, making them more vulnerable to the dangers of the virtual world. This is why you have to be the first one to notice your child’s unhealthy digital habits. Since you know your child more than anyone else, you can understand what preventive measures are appropriate for them.