Is Your Child Addicted To Their Cell Phone? Know The Signs, The Effects, & How You Can Help
Cell phones have become an essential part of a human’s social status in the last 10 or 15 years. From keeping in touch with old friends, new friends, neighbors, even neighbor’s dogs, we use cell phones. But what happens when casual use of our cell phones becomes addictive?
Millennials are not new to cell phones but they didn’t grow up around them as much as the younger generations did. It is not a secret that teens, even toddlers these days feel comfortable using cell phones over other things.
Especially in the times of COVID, when children from kindergarteners to teenagers are expected to attend academic and social events from their homes. And this is possible only using cell phones and other digital devices. But when does the casual perusal of cell phones become an addiction?
What are the signs of phone addiction in your child you need to keep in mind? How can you, as parents, guardians, or teachers, help your child navigate the world of tech?
6 Signs Your Child Is Addicted To Cell Phone
It is important to understand that not all approaches to cell phone use are negative. Cell phones are integral to your child’s social and academic communications. If we look at the trend, in the coming years’ cell phones will be a part of your child’s life in the future.
What matters here is to help your child understand the balance between using cell phones as recreational practice and as professional/academic practice.
Some researchers believe that phone addiction may be as dangerous as drug or alcohol addiction in teenagers. Too much social media or cell phone use releases dopamine, the pleasure chemical that encourages us to seek pleasurable activities.
Learning how to handle the use of cell phones and maintaining a healthy balance is important. Below are some of the signs that may suggest your child is addicted to their cell phones:
1. Switching Off Their Phones Cause Them To Panic
One of the major signs your child is addicted to cell phones is that they are unable to control themselves when it comes to using cell phones. When your kid faces trouble switching off their phones, it’s time to consider your child’s cell phone habit.
Many a time, such behavior may also cause a child to develop an obsessive or compulsive disorder. Even OCD. Cell phone addiction in tweens and teens can cause them to panic or experience anxiety with the mere thought of separating from their phones.
2. They Have Loss Interest In Other Activities
Another sign of phone addiction is when your child has lost interest in other activities such as reading, playing outdoor games, making art, etc. If your child used to play outdoor games, read, or make crafts are now spending their time playing video games on cell phones, watching videos on YouTube, etc is a sign of too much phone usage.
This kind of behavior can affect your child’s personality development and communication skills. They may prefer to isolate themselves to stay glued to their screens rather than go outside and explore.
3. They Are Preoccupied With Their Cell Phones
Even when your child is not on their phones but is preoccupied with the thoughts of spending more time on their phones is another sign of phone addiction. Too much screen time can be harmful to your child’s growth and development.
Such kind of behavior can even cause your child to develop sleep disorders such as insomnia. Staying up too late to play games or browse the internet may cause them to disrupt their sleep-wake cycle, too.
4. Their Social Life Is Being Disrupted
When cell phones begin to interfere with your child’s social growth and health, this could be another sign your child is addicted to cell phones. When they are spending too much time on their phones, it can cause them to isolate themselves, which can result in other mental health problems.
Children who prefer virtual communication over real-life can develop disorders such as social anxiety, depressive disorders, etc. Phone addiction can also cause your child’s relationship with you or their friends to get negatively affected.
5. They Prefer Virtual Communication More
Does your child prefer to text you or call you even when you are under the same roof instead of talking to you? This could be another sign your child is addicted to their phones. This unhealthy communication with their screens may cause them to lose their communication skills, develop poor concentration skills, etc.
When your child begins to prefer virtual communication over real-life interactions, it is a topic of concern. This kind of behavior can not only affect their communication skills but also their social skills and overall wellness.
6. Their Family Relationships Are Failing
Has your child stopped communicating with you? Are they on their phones in group settings such as family gatherings? This is also another sign of phone addiction. When your tween or teen isolates themselves in a social setting to use their phone, it’s a habit that needs to change.
This kind of behavior can affect their family relationships. Not only they are avoiding face-to-face conversations with their family but it is also affecting their social and academic skills. If they are not paying attention at home, they will face trouble paying attention at school and social gatherings.
How Much Is Too Much?
Smartphones are not new and nowadays using smartphones is not only social status but also a necessity. But when do you know how much is too much? Here are some signs:
- Using cell phones to relieve stress or as a coping mechanism.
- Preferring cell phones over friendships and other engaging activities.
- Experiencing symptoms such as anger, irritability, and restlessness when not using the phone.
- Experiencing physical symptoms such as eyestrain, headaches, neck pain, fatigue, sleep problems, etc.
When these signs are present along with the other signs of phone addiction, that’s when you know that your child’s screen time is too much and needs to stop.
What Can Parents Do?
Whether you like it or not, phones can be beneficial sometimes but when your child is addicted to their phones, here’s what you can do to help them healthily manage their screen time:
- Educate Them: Talk to them about the pros and cons of using cell phones. Teach them how to use their phones responsibly to protect their mental, cyber, emotional, social health.
- Set Boundaries: Setting healthy boundaries such as no phones during bathtime or no phones on the dinner table can help. Help them adopt these boundaries by practicing the same.
- Monitor Use: Track your and your child’s screen time and phone usage. Doing this as a family can help. Letting them know that you’re practicing the same as them can help.
- Set Screen-Free Zones: Now that you know when your child is using their phones the most, make a plan and create screen-free zones such as no devices during family outings, social settings, etc.
- Encourage Off Screen Time: Make sure you encourage your child to go out more and engage in outdoor activities or hobbies that do not include using their phones.
- Practice What You Preach: If you’re insisting your child set boundaries or track their screen usage, practice these boundaries yourself. When your child sees you model boundaries, they will learn these as appropriate behaviors.
If your child’s “addiction” is interfering with their daily life, it is okay to seek help from a professional. Therapies such as individual therapy or CBT can help. Practicing mindfulness or other healthy coping strategies can be helpful too.
Smartphones are now a part of our daily habits but learning and teaching our children to maintain a healthy balance between virtual life and real life is important. If your child is showing signs of OCD, depression, anxiety, insomnia, or other mental health concerns, you must seek professional consultation.
I hope these signs your child is addicted to cell phones helped you understand what to do and how much screen time is too much. For more, you can always reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org or DM us on social media. We’re here to help you!
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