It seems like everywhere you look these days people are on their phone. Children are learning how to use cell phones at younger ages. Since children are growing up in an era where cellphone usage is commonplace, they are more susceptible to developing addictions at younger and younger ages.
More and more parents are reaching out, asking for help for their kids.
If a child or teenager suffers from cell phone addiction, it could have negative implications on brain development as the human brain isn’t fully developed until around the age of 25.
Is Cell Phone Addiction Like Drug Addiction?
It’s been noted that teen cell phone addiction can emulate similarities to drug addiction. One of the greatest links is the rush of dopamine a teen will experience when using their cell phone. Many teens can’t necessarily articulate the desire to use their phones constantly except that it makes them feel good. This is not necessarily an accident. The same release of dopamine is similar to the release of dopamine and other neurotransmitters that happens when drugs are used.
This is why many of the same issues that are present among teen smartphone addicts are equally seen among drug abuse. Symptoms such as obsessively checking their phones. Making excuses in order to continue doing so, even when asked not to. Also frequently becoming upset or anxious when unable to.
Effects of Teen Smartphone Addiction
Research has revealed some of the effects of internet addiction on children, which is closely related to smartphone addiction. These include:
- High harm-avoidance – avoidant, worrisome, fearful
- Altered reward dependence. – the reward neurotransmitter in the brain is altered to feel rewarded over the internet vs natural rewards like being with friends or getting good grades
- Low self-esteem
- Low cooperation
- Brain connectivity in parts of the brain that regulate emotions, decision-making, and impulse control has been notably decreased as usage continues
- Poor dietary habits
- Increased levels of social loneliness.
Some of the noted physical symptoms of cell phone addiction are:
- Text neck
- Car accident from not paying enough attention
Teens and Social Media Use
Teenagers use many different forms of social media such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter. These allow teenagers to connect with their peers. These applications provide the user with the ability to connect with peers all around the world and access news and information, they can also lead to compulsive and problematic cell phone use, cyberbullying, sexting, and Facebook depression. Facebook depression is a term coined by researchers to define the depression associated with excessive social media use and comparing one’s life to the life of others online.
Research has revealed:
- 92% of teens say that they go online daily, while 24% consider themselves to be online constantly.
- Over half of teenagers go online many times a day.
- 94% of teenagers 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%), then Snapchat (44%).
Does My Teen Have a Cell Phone Addiction?
If you are monitoring your child and you suspect that your teenager is struggling with an addiction to their smartphone, here are some signs and symptoms to be on the lookout for:
- Significant weight change.
- Change in diet.
- Change in sleep patterns.
- Depressed or irritable mood.
- Flat affect or facial expression.
- Little interest in activities they once found enjoyable.
- Difficulties paying attention.
- Withdrawal from social interaction or activities.
- Low self-esteem.
- Neglecting other activities and is constantly on his or her phone.
- Sore neck or headaches.
- Experiencing anxiety when without his or her cell phone or service.
- Experiencing “phantom vibration syndrome,” which means checking his or her phone when it hasn’t vibrated or rung.
- Using his or her cell phone while driving or crossing the street.
Treatment for Teens
Although cell phone addiction is a relatively new behavioral addiction that isn’t formally in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5) yet, there are a few different rehabilitation centers that specialize in treating teen smartphone addiction, such as eagle ranch academy.
If you suspect that your teen suffers from an addiction to his or her cellphone, it can be battled. Help your teen regain control of his or her life. Don’t hesitate to call to learn about rehabilitation options available for him or her.