Are Your Kids Addicted to their smartphones?
10 troubling signs parents should watch out for
To say that kids and teenagers are spending a lot of time on their smartphones would be a huge understatement. Some studies have shown that young people are spending as much as nine hours a day texting, tweeting, web surfing and chatting with their friends.
That is more time than they spend in school, more hours than they spend with their families and even more time than they spend watching television. With kids as young as five carting smartphones around, some parents are starting to worry.
Smartphone addiction is all too common in this age group, and it is important for parents to watch out for the early warning signs. Whether smartphone addiction is a widely recognized illness or just an unhealthy choice, the results are just as bad. Kids and teens who spend too much time on their smartphones are at increased risk of anxiety and depression, obesity and a host of other psychological and physical disorders. If you have a child, you need to watch out for these 10 warning signs of a looming smartphone addiction.
1. Use of smartphones during dinner and other appointed family time. If your kids routinely ignore dinnertime restrictions on smartphone use, they could be addicted.
2. Panic at the thought of losing their smartphone or leaving home without it. If your son or daughter calls in a panic because they left their iPhone at home, it may be time to cut the cord.
3. An increase in smartphone usage and a persistent need to have the device readily at hand. For addicted users, smartphone use often ramps up over time, so keep track of the hours your kids spend online.
4. Attempts to circumvent parental controls and secrecy about their texting and web surfing habits. If your kids are constantly looking for ways around the latest set of smartphone restrictions, it may be time to get involved.
5. Failed attempts to cut back on smartphone use. If the young person in your life has repeatedly tried and failed to cut back on usage, they may need your help to be successful.
6. Turning down opportunities to spend time with their family, opting to hang out with online friends instead. It is normal for teens to step back from their parents, but completely eschewing family time for online companions is always a troubling sign.
7. A loss of interest in real-world activities they once enjoyed. Does your baseball-loving son no longer play the game? Has your soccer superstar daughter lost interest in scoring the winning goal? Losing interest in formerly favorite activities is a classic sign of addiction.
8. For working teens, ignoring warnings about smartphone use at work. If your teen has a job, their smartphone addiction could leave them unemployed.
9. Physical problems related to excess screen time, including neck strain from looking down and eye strain from squinting. Smartphone addiction can cause more than just psychological and emotional problems - the physical damage can be all too real.
10. For older teens, ignoring warnings about texting or driving or being in involved in a texting-related car accident.
If you recognize any of these troubling warning signs in your own child, it is time to stage an intervention. Like all other forms of addiction, an addiction to smartphone use can be overcome. It will take time and dedication, and no small amount of parental guidance, but you can help the young person in your life break free of their harmful smartphone addiction.