Tag Archives: addiction

Virtual Addiction – Teens and Smartphones

Have you ever seen a group of young people walking down the road but instead of interacting with each other, they are all texting in unison? Too many young people are dangerously tied to their phones nowadays, and there’s a name for it. Smartphone addiction, or more specifically, the fear of being without one’s phone has been recently coined nomophobia. Phone and internet addictions aren’t exclusive to teens of course, but we will focus on youth in this post.

Signs Your Teen May Have a Problem 

While these aren’t all hard and fast rules, a few of these symptoms together may paint a picture of dependence:

  • One of the biggest signs is a panic – some teens and preteens are so attached that they may be combative, begin to panic or be unable to function if you take the phone away
  • Insomnia – they will take their phone to bed and often lose sleep from texting and browsing social media all night
  • They may be isolated, preferring their phone to real interactions
  • Paying more attention to phone than surroundings, may bang into objects frequently
  • High harm-avoidance – they may be more fearful, cynical, socially inept or worrisome

Physical Manifestations of Phone Addiction

Phone addiction extends beyond the psychological symptoms; some physical complications that can result from phone addiction include:

  • Carpel tunnel or tendonitis
  • Early deterioration of ligaments and tissues in the hand from repetitive actions
  • Callous on the thumb from constant use may be another sure-fire sign your teen is spending too much time on the phone.

Another physical complication from phone overuse is a hump in the neck from constantly bowing to look at phone for long periods of time. Young people are especially vulnerable to this issue because their necks may not be fully developed and may be easier to remold. If you see any of these signs in your child or teen, it may be time to take away the phone or replace it with a no-frills flip-phone that they can only use for emergencies.

When Phone Addiction Becomes Fatal

There have been several cases of motor vehicle fatalities because a person was texting and failed to follow the proper signals or see oncoming traffic. In one devastating case, an 18-year-old student was killed when she collided with a transport truck. When police surveyed the scene, there weren’t even any skid marks, indicating she didn’t look up from the phone in time to put on the breaks before it was too late. Unfortunately, this is far from an isolated event. According to the National Safety Council, texting while driving causes nearly 1 600 000 accidents, and 2 330 000 subsequent injuries annually. People of all ages are responsible for making the dangerous decision to text and drive, but teenagers who are addicted to phones are especially likely to be involved in such high-risk activities as they may not piece together the heavy potential ramifications to the same degree an adult would.

Tips for Helping Curb the Addiction

There are things that you can do to help your teen if think they may be addicted to their smartphone such as:

  • Allowing phones in certain common areas, but not in private where use can’t be monitored
  • Implementing a strict “no phones at dinner” policy
  • Allow your teen have their phone for only 1-2 hours a day for leisure purposes
  • Ban phones while driving or walking outdoors for safety reasons
  • Seek therapy for your son or daughter if the limits you set do not help break the addiction

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