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Cell Phone Addiction Teens, Children AND Us – Symptoms, Tips & Therapy

12 min read


In times of fast-moving digitization, many parents look on their offspring with incomprehension. They can spend hours with their smartphones, surfing the web, chatting with friends, watching the latest video from a YouTube star.

This, understandably, causes great concern to many people. After all, it seems that the children almost completely shift their lives to the digital world and do not really get to know the “real” world or are particularly interested in it.

Even educators are concerned about these developments, which are becoming more and more common. How you can detect cell phone addiction among teens and your children, what action can be taken and when it’s may be time to get professional help. Time for cell phone addiction treatment.

The cell phone itself causes cell phone addicion

Just as I’m writing this article my wife tells me of a man who complains about his wife who let play their 1 1/2 year old (in words: one and a half years) child with the cell phone all day long.

The mother is unemployed and therefore at home. The man said (the two parents have a different skin color than the society in which they live) that the child is totally frightened when they go out in public because the skin color of others scares him.

Of course, it makes life easier when you leave a child with a cell phone – after all it’s more silent then. But the effects of such education must be mastered by the child itself later on in the future.

Symptoms Cell Phone Addiction

Basically, there is nothing wrong with the use of cell phones and smartphones. It is a natural process of evolution that we observe. As a result, our world of life expands radically and we experience the first time in human history how easy large parts of the population have access to virtually every conceivable information.

In terms of cell phones, this could include the following points:

• The social environment suffers. For example, the child refrains from meeting friends so he/she can spend more time online – or unsubscribing from a beloved club or group to spend more time on the phone.

• The child gives up other interests and hobbies. If the phone has become the only source of fun and joy for the child, addictive behavior is definitely there. Of course, it’s fine if the child likes to chat or play online, but it should not be the only hobby.

• The grades are getting worse. Of course, this can also have a lot of other reasons, but one unifying sign of addictive behavior is to neglect other areas of life. If grades at school actually get worse because the child spends so much time on the phone, a point is reached where parents have a duty to intervene.
Should we protect them? Watch THIS!


Of course, Signs For Cell Phone Addiction are just a few…

In general, it can be said that if the child is mobile addicted has often been answered by the gut feeling. If one has come to the conclusion that the behavior of the child is problematic, the next step must now be an open and honest conversation with him or her.

Prohibitions and allegations rarely improve in such a situation; instead, parents should strive to communicate their worries and fears clearly, and to make the child so clear that it is loved and supported in case of problems.

Together, one can now think about measures how to face the problem. Maybe even the child has already realized that his behavior is not healthy and he is happy about the help of the parents.

A big problem that addicts have to struggle with is the shame of admitting to having a problem. Here parents have the task of taking their shame off their child and supporting him in the fight against cell phone addiction.


Combat Cell Phone Addiction

Family activity

Joint ventures
Excursions and joint ventures: These are perfect not only to explain them to the “smartphone-free time”, but you also show the child that activities can be quite “analog” fun.

Simply taking the phone away from the child would have the opposite effect: without his usual entertainment source, the child will be bored and the desire for the phone will only increase. Parents are perceived as evil and unyielding because they rob the source of entertainment without replacing it with anything new.



Endeavor for conversation

An open, honest conversation: Anyone who flies so consistently into an online world that one can speak of addiction is probably dissatisfied with anything in his life. Then he tries to find satisfaction online that is denied offline. It is important to find out in a good conversation with the child.

If this is the case, and if so, how to remedy this malady. Of course, this requires a lot of trust and courage on the part of the child, so parents should not push or “ask for answers”. Instead, it can sometimes work wonders to let the child know that it finds support and can always turn to parents for problems.

Unfortunately, there are also cases where such measures fail. Parents can only hope that the child is even talking to them instead of escaping into his room. If the child, despite countermeasures, does not change his behavior over a longer period, or even gets worse, therapy should be considered.

And if the negative effects become pronounced more and more the visit to a therapist or counseling center could be a big advantage.

Cell phone addiction already has a name:

Nomophobia (if that far already, then I definitely suggest THIS.)

Psychologists have created a list of symptoms that indicate smartphone addiction.

Ever since the launch of the first iPhone in January 2007, our everyday life has changed fundamentally. Suddenly the internet became mobile and you could just carry it with you.

Today, years later, we are constantly online, up-to-date and accessible thanks to emails, WhatsApp messages and social media apps. Whether on the way to work on the work or in the evening before bedtime – the smartphone has become our constant companion.

If we have to leave the phone for more than half an hour we will become restless and afraid to miss something earth-shattering. Our biggest fear now is to forget the smartphone at home or even lose it!


Of course, one can also gain a lot from this global network of communication channels, there is no question about that. But observing most of the people run down the street staring at their smartphone screen, this is perhaps a cause for concern.

The ubiquity of smartphones and our dependence on them, afraid of being unreachable for social contacts has become even more popular: Nomophobia.

Are you a mobile addict?

Psychologists have developed a list of symptoms that indicate smartphone dependency. If you look at this list, you will find some points almost uncannily familiar.

For example, the fact that we feel uncomfortable and uneasy if we cannot have the phone at hand anywhere in our immediate vicinity.

Or the constant checking of messages in all channels and the need to respond immediately to every little comment.

Sometimes we even think that smartphone in our pocket was just vibrating – only to look and then see that it was a mistake. Even this symptom was given a name: “Phantom Cellphone Vibration Syndrome”.

Cell phone lunchYou also do not really hear what the other person has to say. Finally, you also have to scroll down the Facebook Timeline and see which new photos have been uploaded to Instagram.

For students, a clear deterioration in learning performance may also be related to mobile phone addiction. Meanwhile, there are even apps that block access to social media for a while, so you can focus on the essentials.

Even those who just go shopping for a short time and notice that the cell phone is still at home and just turn around to get it, meets a criterion of Nomophobia.

Is it possible to restrict the smartphone dependency?
Many people are well aware that their lives would probably be a lot less stressful if they were able to rid of the constant fear of being unreachable and therefore missing something.


There are a few simple tips to get into the grip on your smartphone:

Never be busy with your smartphone while driving.

Our attention should be focused on traffic and nothing else.

Those who do not comply with this rule pose not only putting themselves at risk but also to their fellow human beings.

2 friends in the parkNo cell phone in the bathroom and toilet.

This point probably needs little further explanation. Imagine how many bacteria “have a meeting” on your mobile phone surface, if you cannot put down your phone even in most private moments …

Never fall asleep again while staring at the phone.

Even just before falling asleep, many are still online all the time. Here a tweet posted there an image commented … it will never be boring on Facebook, Twitter and Co. The blue light emanating from our smartphone makes us fall asleep much more badly because it makes our brain thinking to being alert.

Turn off the phone when traveling with friends.

After all, it’s sad sitting in opposite of your friends in reality and then you only dive into the virtual world again because you prefer staring at your smartphone rather than talking to your friends. Try turning off your phone completely – after a while it will become easier for you.

Leave the mobile at home. For the truly “brave” there is a radical suggestion: if you can, spend your working day without a smartphone. It does not have to be the whole day but maybe two or three hours…?

So…hard decicions for all of us, right?
I did some very responsible research for you – watch this REVIEW.

Is my child a mobile addict?

Our child comes home from school, greets briefly, and vanishes in his room and in the smartphone-world for hours. “Is my child mobile addicted…?“ we ask ourselves.

How to recognize a cell phone addiction and what to do according to the expert’s advice:

The cell phone as a constant companion:
If you leave everything else and only look at your smartphone, this is an indication of a cell phone addiction according to experts.

Expert’s opinion:

It seems that teenagers holding a smartphone in their hand almost always – on the train, in the café or at home. In fact, they spend a lot of time on their smartphones, tablets and more. “Youth are 25 percent online longer than they were two years ago on average”. This is the result of the representative James study published in November 2016.

“During a week, according to their own information, teenagers are surfing two hours and 30 minutes a day, three hours and 40 minutes a week, on average.” The smartphone, which almost 99 percent of young people own already according to the study, offers the opportunity to be online almost everywhere.

The constant access to the Internet also carries risks: “It can develop dependency and like any other dependency the transition from problem-free use to problematic-use and dependency is fluent,” the experts are warning.

Mobile phone not only has dark sides

The crux of the smartphone: The devices are now omnipresent and offer many conveniences that make life easier for both, adolescents and adults. As a result mobile phones are no longer indispensable from everyday life. They open up completely new possibilities; for example, in the way you can express yourself creatively or in terms of communication.

It’s not surprising that most of the young people nowadays using their mobile phone for talking to friends and classmates. In addition, the phone is being used to download and listen to music very often. According to the James study, teenagers often use their smartphone to communicate via messenger apps, to use it as clock and as music player.

Five percent of adolescents are affected by cell phone addiction

Many functions combined with great gadgets provide the danger of cell phone addiction. “Five per cent of young people between the age of 12 and 19 can be seen as being addicted to mobile phones,” experts already recognized in its 2012 study “Mobile use of youth – between committed use and behavioral addiction”.

Young people who find it difficult to approach others and to make friends are at particular risk. Instead of looking for friends in real life they embark on virtual social networks to experience a sense of connectedness and belonging. “Emotional problems seem to overcome easier with games and Internet,” the experts say. Smartphone addiction often approaches even teenagers with deep self-esteem. Among other things, they can be linked to computer games through their smartphone which gives them an easy sense of achievement.

This is how cell phone addiction can be detected   

At the latest, if children prefer to sit in their room handling with their smartphones even during holidays without having any appointments with real friends, parents should be highly alert and consider a possible cell phone addiction.

However, the length of time a child spends on a smartphone is not only crucial for cell phone use. It’s even more important whether a person still maintains real friendships, copes up with real conflicts and constantly communicates with their environment. If this is ok, increased smartphone consumption is not really critical.

Signs of cell phone addiction

  • The mobile phone becomes indispensable
  • The user loses control of the mobile phone usage; pulling the smartphone becomes routine
  • The mobile phone is also used in inappropriate situations
  • Persons get less real contacts the more and prefer to communicate via mobile phone
  • The smartphone is used for mental stabilization, e.g. to cheer up or relieve stress

Longer-term consequences of a smartphone addiction among adolescents

  • Getting worse with school performance
  • Social retraction
  • Fatigue as a result of lack of sleep
  • Neglecting contacts with peers
  • Lack of interest in other leisure activities

Ways out of cell phone addiction

Communicate your worries with your child!

It is not always easy to talk to children. Teenagers, in particular, often resist parents’ tutelage. Marshall B. Rosenberg, American psychologist and author of numerous books on non-violent communication, recommends conversations like these:

“Ever since you came home from school today, you’ve spent your time on your cell phone. That worries me. I want you to spend more time on other things like hobbies, sports and school. Please let us consider together, when you can turn off the phone. … “ This is how you can talk, according to Rosenberg reproach-free conversation.

Find common rules – more tips

When it comes to developing rules for cell phone use, listening is crucial. If a compromise was found agree to a trial run first. This trial run can then be discussed after a week, for example. Are parents and child satisfied? Do both detect any useful improvements?

Parents who like to use their mobile phone and computer themselves will find it difficult to persuade their child to spend their time on other leisure activities. Their television consumption or their own use of the Internet affects the attitudes and behavior of their child.

Maybe the family will dare to do the experiment “cell phone fasting” together? Imagine your children and teenagers spending their free time without WhatsApp, Google, series, games and more. The kids will be astonished how much time is being released suddenly!

Such a project has been carried out in 2016 in the canton of Lucerne, Switzerland, for ten years. The “Addiction Counseling Center of Zurich” stepped into the first attempt for the project “Flicker-Pause“. Five primary school classes, four individual students, one secondary class and one youth center participated in the experiment.

Whilst visitors of the participating youth house mostly stayed away from the project, some young people who participated commented positively: “I could sleep well. It was strangely quiet. My parents read”, a youth said. Another one came to the conclusion that he will read more again. “I sometimes forget reading,” he noted.

Offer alternatives

Parents should consider what kind of activities they could suggest to their child to fill up their spare time. “Our role as parents is to talk to our young people about their interests in all ways of life – both, in terms of media, what happens at school and in their free time,” an educational advisor says.
It was crucial to offer alternatives to them. These can be leisure activities such as sports, culture or social commitment that you can plan together as a family. For example, those who like to be outdoors, could, for example, build a tree house, do a geocaching tour or simply play basketball or soccer. There are a lot of possibilities.

If worries remain

Sometimes worries remain despite of all efforts to motivate the child to undertake real leisure activities. If you realize that you cannot make progress together, do not hesitate to ask for support. Specialists in addiction problems, youth counseling centers, educational counseling centers and psychologists can help. You can get support together with your child – or alone if you wish.

Thank you!
Thank you for your time and patience in reading this really long article.
I hope I could give some interesting and useful information.
If you have any question or concern, please feel free to leave me a comment
below and I’ll be very happy to help you!

Warm regards,
Old George


9 thoughts on “Cell Phone Addiction Teens, Children AND Us – Symptoms, Tips & Therapy

  1. Hi, this is a great read! I don’t have children at the moment but I am constantly telling my family members to stop letting their children be on the computer/phones for so long. My nephew is always watching TV but when I arrive, he plays with me. Children love to play and if you try, they will always leave the TV to go play!

    1. Hi Sandy,
      many thanks for you post!
      I make the same experience – whenever we play something together, the phone or laptop is not that interesting any more. Though we are pretty late with your daughter… 🙂
      Now we will start with geocaching. She can combine phone and nature then. I think that could work. Let’s see.. 🙂
      All the best,

  2. This article is spot on! I can’t tell you how many times in public I see not one – but many individuals glued to their cell phones. It’s almost abnormal if I’m sitting in the Starbucks or a cafe and find at least one person actually reading a book, newspaper or holding a conversation with another person WITHOUT reaching for their cell phone.

    And that video is hilarious! I’m surprised we don’t see MORE people tripping over themselves in public when they’re walking and texting.

    Great article!

    1. Hi Isaiah,
      you are right – sometimes I even see couples sitting in a restaurant. Each handling with their phone instead of talking to each other. That’s crazy, right? 🙂

  3. Wow this was such an amazing article. The world has become so addicted to technology and mainly cell phones, everywhere I look I see people on their phones even at restaurants everyone is just on their phone and not even talking to each other & its ridiculous!

  4. One of the rules at our house is ‘no phones at the table.’ Whether we are eating dinner together or playing a board game together on the table, phones are not allowed. Period. My kids will have talks with their parents whether they like it or not!

    Interesting article. Thanks!

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