Teens and Smartphone Addiction: What Parents Need to Know

Teens and Smartphone Addiction: What Parents Need to Know

Published On: May 19, 2019

Teen smartphone addiction is quickly growing into a new issue parents must face. In the past, parents had to worry about their teens experimenting with drugs, cigarettes, and alcohol. Today, parents have all that plus another addiction to worry about: their teens being tethered to their phones for seven, eight, or more hours every day!

Part of the problem with teen smartphone addiction is that it’s hard to address since the use of smartphones is so ingrained into our society. Just about everyone has a smartphone. Parents like being able to reach their teens via text or phone call. Plus, parents can enable phone tracking, so they know exactly where their teens are at when they are not at home.

However, parents need to seriously consider the long-term effects a smartphone addiction could have on their teenager. Would you allow your teen to watch TV for seven or eight hours every day? How about sit and play video games on their game system for that same period of time? Most parents would probably not. Yet we let our teens have access to their smartphone 24/7 and be on it as much as they want.

Managing and addressing the issue can result in some problematic behaviours. If you have ever taken your teen’s smartphone away for punishment, how did they react? If they seemed frustrated, upset, angry, or started shaking or sweating, or complained of a headache or feeling nauseous, they were experiencing withdrawal symptoms.

Why is a Smartphone so Important to a Teen?

In order to determine the best approach for helping your teen manage their smartphone usage and address potential addiction problems, you first need to understand why teens with addictive tendencies cannot live without their phones.

For teens, their smartphone is their gateway to the world and thus a big part of their life and social interactions. They need to know what their friends are doing, where they are checking in, and who they’re hanging out with. If they discover their friends are all at a party but they themselves weren’t invited, it can be a devastating blow to learn they were excluded.

Teens also are equally concerned about what others are posting about them online:

  • Are their friends liking their posts?
  • What comments have they made?
  • How many followers do I have now?
  • Are my friends criticizing me?
  • Did some of my friends “unfriend” me?

Teens use the answers to these questions to gauge how well they are liked, their popularity level, and whether their peers admire them. If they receive a large amount of positive feedback, it can be similar to the “high” experienced when using certain drugs. If they receive a lot of negative feedback, it can lead to a depressed state and further social withdrawal.

If your teen is having problems disconnecting from their smartphone, or you believe they might be addicted, Bayridge Counselling Centres are here to help. Call us at 905-319-1488 to schedule an appointment today!

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