Mobile phone addiction among teenagers- Problems and solutions

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Mobile phone addiction among teenagers has been a matter of concern for parents. Teenagers have been completely mesmerised by mobile phones. This so-called ‘smart’ gadget has taken charge of their lives,  emotions, and actions.

“Home is where the heart is, but today, the phone is where the heart is!” –Rachitha Cabral

 mobile phone addiction -WHAT research studies SAY…

Research studies at Baylor University suggest astounding facts that college students are spending an average of  8-10  hours a  day connected to their smartphones. Nearly 60 per cent of those surveyed admitted to being possibly addicted to their phones and reported they get  “agitated” if they lose sight of the device. The findings also suggest that texting is the topmost activity for an average of 95  minutes a  day, followed by email and then time on Facebook. (Health eNews, 2014)

According to Vandana  Goswami  (2016), Excessive use of the mobile phone leads to various health hazards like headaches,   earaches,   warmth sensation,   fatigue and musculoskeletal symptoms etc.  The use of mobile phones during driving is one of the leading cause of accidents and some controversy still exists whether the over usage of the mobile phone whether it produces a tumour or not.

Negative effects of mobile phone addiction

Adverse effect on studies

Students can be seen playing games, chatting, and talking to their friends on their mobile phones most of the times. This is a major reason why they possibly  ‘don’t get time for studies’. Although mobile phones are also used by students to share notes, have discussions regarding academics; most of the time is spent chatting with friends trying to get more likes on their shares. It can cause distraction, leading to poor concentration levels and fatigue.

Accidents and health issues

Believe it or not, many of the accidents that happen daily arise because of mobile phones. The use of mobile phones have resulted in dangerous driving, the impact of which can be seen in the increasing number of accidents. Mobile phones have a bad impact on health as well. Several types of research conducted by health experts have proved the bad impact of mobile phones on health including physical and psychological problems.

 Information overload

 Excessive web surfing, watching videos, playing games, searching Google, or checking news feeds can affect productivity at work or school eating up lots of precious time that can be allotted for important tasks. Compulsive use of the Internet and mobile phone apps can cause to neglect other aspects of one’s life, from real-world relationships to hobbies and social pursuits.

Virtual relationships

Virtual/online friends have become more important than real-life relationships due to the excessive use of social networking, dating apps, texting, and messaging. Though the internet can be a great platform to meet new people, catch up with old friends; online relationships are not a healthy substitute for real-life interactions. One may end up spending more and more time with online friends, retreating from the real world, family, and friends and thus losing out on important relationships.

Increasing loneliness and depression

 A 2014 study found a significant connection between high social media usage and depression and anxiety. Users, especially teenagers, happen to compare themselves unfavourably with their peers on social media, thus promoting feelings of loneliness and depression.

Watch out for these signs of Childhood Depression to protect your child’s mental well-being

Fuelling anxiety

The mere presence of a phone while studying tends to make students more anxious and perform poorly on given tasks. The heavier the usage of the phone, the greater is the level of anxiety.

 Attention deficit disorders

Constant messages and information from a mobile phone can overwhelm the brain and make it impossible to focus attention on any one thing for more than a few minutes without feeling compelled to move on to something else. This may affect the attention span of students in class and while studying at home too.

 Problems with concentration

 The persistent buzz, ping or beep of a mobile phone can cause distraction from important tasks, slow down work, and interrupt quiet moments that are so crucial to creativity and problem-solving. Instead of ever being alone with their thoughts, students are now always online and connected.

 Disturbance in sleep patterns

Mobile phone addiction can disrupt sleep, which can have a serious impact on overall mental health. It can affect one’s memory, the ability to think clearly and reduce cognitive and learning skills thus leading to poor academic performance.

 Encouraging self-absorption

 A study conducted in the UK found that people who spend a lot of time on social media are more likely to display negative personality traits such as narcissism. Snapping endless selfies, posting all your thoughts and actions or details about your personal life can create an unhealthy self-centred behaviour, distancing a person from real-life relationships thus making it difficult to deal with stress.

What can parents do to curb mobile phone addiction…..

Parents as role models

Restrictive use of cell phones by parents can be a leading example to their children. Quality time should be spent with family,  friends, and neighbours in order to get the personal touch. Parents should avoid the use of cell phones, especially while talking or being with others.

Reclaiming family time

‘No mobile phones at the dinner table’ should be the family rule and this includes even silent mode and “I am just going to check it really very quick.” Family dinners, birthdays and general family holidays should be mobile phone-free. If this is too much to ask, several pictures and videos during the event can be allowed.

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 Monitor mobile phone activity

Parental control plays a very important role in curbing the use of the mobile phone. Usage of mobile phones and various applications should be monitored by parents to make sure that their teens are not misusing mobile phones.  Some of the apps are Screen time, Norton family, Kaspersky safe kids, family time etc. You can also browse for free apps from the Google play store.

No driving and texting

This should be made obligatory to teens by parents. According to a report by National Safety Council, cell phone-related crashes and accidents have increased for the third straight year and now account for 27 per cent of all crashes. Teenagers are inexperienced drivers and are hence more likely to be involved in accidents, including fatalities.

Get them involved in meaningful hobbies

Music, sports, reading, walking, trekking, family games or just about anything can help in diverting your teen’s attention from unnecessary use of the mobile phone. Take club memberships with your teens, go on parent-child dates, engage them in household chores or just talk to them often. Many times excessive use of mobile phones happens when the child is less engaged in meaningful activities.

Refer to therapy

Some forms of mobile phone addiction are hard to overcome and may require help from mental health professionals. It is extremely difficult when stimulants surround a teen almost everywhere.  Mental health professionals can help youth without creating family tension.

Learn more about How to Find the Right Rehab

Getting your teen off his/her mobile phone is not an easy task. However, positive parenting and effective discipline can help to encounter the problem of mobile phone addiction among teenagers.

Happy Parenting!

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Vandana Goswami, Dr. Divya Rani Singh (2016) ‘Impact of mobile phone addiction on adolescent’s life:A literature review’, International Journal of Home Science,2(1):69-74

Ria Nicoletti Morphitou(2014), ‘The Use Of smart phones Among Students In Relation To Their Education And Social Life’ ICICTE 2014

Wankel, L. A., & Blessinger, P. (2013). Increasing student engagement and retention using mobile applications. West Yorkshire, UK: Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Smartphone addiction high among college students

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