teenage smartphone addiction

Is Your Teenager Addicted to a Smartphone?

February 22, 2018

Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Tinder – social networking sites are abundant in today’s tech-heavy world, and it’s likely your teenager uses one or more of them. A whopping 81 percent of Americans maintain at least one social media profile.

Most teens access social media through smartphones. While it might seem like it’s all “fun and games” – everyone’s got a smartphone, mom! – overusing social media, flash games, text messaging, and other mobile apps can impact your teenager’s life negatively.

Believe it or not, cellphone addiction is a real mental disorder. Unfortunately, it also comes hand-in-hand with mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, and mood disorders. Don’t ignore the potential negative impacts of smartphones on your teen; if your child displays any of the behaviors below, consider taking them to a mental health professional.

Cellphone Addiction Statistics

110 times

  • An astounding 80-odd percent of 18- to 24-year-olds sleep with their smartphones directly beside their beds or sleeping areas.
  • A whopping 84 percent of Americans claim they couldn’t go just one 24-hour period without their smartphones.
  • The average person logs onto their smartphone – it might be hard to believe, but it’s true – 110 times each day.
  • Over three-quarters of all parents in the United States have argued with their teenagers over excessive smartphone usage.
  • Get this – half of all teenagers openly admit they’re addicted to smartphones. What if that many teenagers were addicted to illicit drugs that cause physical dependence?
  • 75 percent of smartphone users report having texted while driving on at least one occasion, if not regularly.

Mental Health Symptoms Related To Teenage Smartphone Addiction

Sleep Problems

Many teenage cellphone users experience sleep disorders as a result of using smartphones late at night, typically within one hour of bedtime. However, excessive smartphone use throughout the day can also cause sleep disturbances.


Anxiety is one of the most common mental disorders plaguing young people in today’s world. Teenage addiction to smartphones is often characterized by your teen experiencing anxiety when she isn’t actively using or mobile device.


Depression is the world’s most prevalent mental health issue, and often comes with a side order of anxiety. Lack of motivation, difficulty paying attention – very common in smartphone addicts – and generally negative moods are common manifestations of depression.

Physical Symptoms That Often Manifest As A Direct Result Of Teenage Smartphone Addiction

Headaches And Vision Problems

Although headaches affect everyone from time to time, digital eye strain can cause headaches.

Other signs of digital eye strain, a direct result of smartphone overuse, include red, itchy eyes. If your teen complains of bad eyesight, as long as such eyesight problems haven’t persisted through childhood, digital eye strain may be to blame.

Neck Pain

Sometimes colloquially referred to as text neck, neck pain often results from glaring down at one’s smartphone for too long. Text neck isn’t always present in smartphone addicts, although teens attempting to hide their smartphone usage in the classroom may experience this phenomenon more frequently then seen in non-school-age populations.

Vehicular Accidents And Collisions

Just like everyone experiences headaches at times, nearly everyone finds themselves involved in multi-vehicle collisions or single-car accidents. A striking number of teenagers – maybe even yours – texts while driving. As such, one or more accidents may alert you to potential smartphone use while driving.

Consider contacting your mobile phone service provider to see if there are any options to detect smartphone use while in moving vehicles.

Signs Your Teenager May Be Addicted To His Or Her Smartphone

It’s important to keep in mind that classifying behaviors as problematic is difficult, unless there’s at least one negative consequence as a direct result of such behaviors.

However, don’t take your teenager’s word for him or her not experiencing problems as a direct result of overusing their smartphone. Be fair, but observe your teen’s smartphone-related behaviors more closely than usual – you may find that some of them are, in fact, problematic.

Checking Phones Unnecessarily

Many smartphone addicts check their phones incessantly, despite knowing no new notifications are present. This distracts your teen, potentially preventing him from completing homework, carrying on conversations, or being courteous while out to dinner or otherwise in public.

Actionably Relenting When You Ground Your Teen From His Smartphone

When you try to pry your son’s or daughter’s smartphone away from their hands, you may find that they lash out at you angrily. This often manifests itself in violent temper tantrums, harsh attitudes, and general disagreement.

Addiction can plague both individuals and entire families. If your teen’s smartphone use has become problematic, you should consider seeking professional help. The mental health professionals at Hillcrest Adolescent Treatment Center are experienced in weening teenagers off smartphones, and may be the best option for your child.