teen cell phone addiction

Teen Cell Phone Addiction – How to Tell When It’s Too Much

June 8, 2017

Everywhere you look, there are teenagers huddling over their phones. Even in groups, they study their screens, scroll through content on social media sites and take selfies to post and share. As frustrating as it can be to try to communicate with a teen while they are engrossed in their phone, parents should be aware that, for many teens, their cell phone isn’t just a cool, high-tech device that allows them to communicate, it may be a serious addiction that can lead to long-term mental health issues.

Signs of Teen Cell Phone Addiction

According to a recent poll, 50 percent of teens believe they are addicted to their cell phones. Adults who participated in the survey believe that number to be higher. Regardless, cell phone overuse in teens is increasingly common. Teens who have a real addiction from to their phones may display some of the following symptoms:

  • Depression. Losing weight, falling grades and near-constant irritability are signs that your teenager may be depressed.
  • Anxiety. A reluctance to go out in public or attend an event in favor of staying in and watching videos online can mean that a teenager is feeling anxious.
  • Fatigue. Often, teens will stay up for hours beyond a normal bedtime, scrolling through sites, checking for texts or posts or watching movies.
  • Withdrawal. Friends, family, and social opportunities become less important.
  • Low self-esteem. Comparing their lives to the peers’ photos on social media platform can cause them to feel less worthy.
  • Headaches. Too much screen time can strain eyes and cause blurry vision and headaches.

Causes of Cell Phone Overuse in Teens

teen cell phone addictionTeenagers today live in world of materialism and convenience. Smart phones are constantly being upgraded and adding new features desirable to young people, which makes their frequent use even more appealing.

There is also evidence of small amounts of dopamine – a naturally occurring chemical linked to happiness – being released when we hear our phone beep from a text or email. If they’re not already on them, teenagers very often reach for their phones immediately upon hearing these sounds, believing that they have to respond to every Tweet, snap, text or post immediately. This cycle increases the amount of time teenagers spend on their phone – as much as seven hours per day.

Many teens also report sleeping with their phones in their bed or close to it. The phone is simply never forgotten about and therefore, becomes an extension of the teenager – even if they secretly wish they could take a break from it.

Treating Cell Phone Addiction

At Hillcrest Adolescent Treatment Center, we are experts in teenage mental health issues, including this relatively new, but very real, epidemic. We realize that if teenagers don’t end their dependence on their cell phones, they face troubling problems: Not only is their mental health at risk, but they are putting an extraordinary strain on their necks, eyes, and shoulders when they hunch for hours over their small screen. Our outpatient treatment programs will help your teenager learn to become less dependent on their cell phones, gain confidence and learn how to enjoy being present.

It’s common for parents to remark, “You are addicted to your phone!” when their child is deeply absorbed in their screen, scrolling constantly and texting. Unfortunately, it’s not a joke and it’s not just frustration from parents who are tired of being ignored: Cell phone addiction in teenagers is a very real mental health issue and, when not addressed properly, can lead to depression, anxiety and other mental health issues that can follow them through adulthood.

At Hillcrest, we’re able to work through the technology addiction that is considered to be the modern phenomenon.