Why Is My Teen Glued To Her Phone?

If you have a teen, you likely are well aware of the frustration that comes with this generation’s smartphone addiction. Nothing can be more aggravating than trying to have a conversation with someone who can’t take her eyes off her screen. Even when you request that your teen put her phone down, you’ll usually get resistance. Why are teens so addicted to their smartphones? What can you, as a parent, do to resolve the issues associated with smartphone overuse?

While smartphone overuse isn’t limited to the millennial generation, it is a growing problem. A Common Sense Media poll revealed that 50 percent of teens surveyed feel addicted to their smartphone, with 78 percent admitting that they feel the need to immediately respond to texts and social media messages. If you’re a parent of a teen, you likely already realize that this addiction is a problem that needs to be addressed. Here are three issues specific to cell phone addiction, as well as suggestions for how you, as a parent, can address them.

Peer Acceptance

Unfortunately, this reliance on social media has led to another contributor to emotional angst: fear of missing out (FOMO). One Pew Research Center study found that more than half of all teens have reported seeing a gathering listed that they weren’t invited to attend. This is in addition to the feelings teens have when they post a selfie that gets zero likes or, worse, negative comments. Adolescence is already a difficult time, with teens still developing the self-esteem they need to forge their own opinions of themselves. Social media only exacerbates the drive to be told they are “enough.” For parents, this means working overtime to help their children use positive self- talk to boost their own confidence.

Comparison to Others

Chances are that if your teen is on a device, that teen is using some form of social media. Unfortunately, social media use has been linked to an increased risk of mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Social media often leads people to compare themselves to others. Since many social media users only share the highlights of their lives, though, it can also lead them to falsely believe that everyone around them has more friends and successes than they do. This is especially true of teens, who may not be sophisticated enough to recognize that others are sharing only the best about themselves. Make a point to help your teen realize that just as they only share the best moments, their friends are likely doing the same.

Failure to Connect

In addition to their online communications, teens also suffer from being on their phones in general. Instead of interacting with their friends at a party, they may be busy snapping selfies or texting friends who aren’t present. Studies have also shown that excessive device use can contribute to a decline in cognition and issues with anxiety and depression. It’s important to recognize these issues in your teen and consider setting aside time each day to put the devices down and engage in activities that don’t involve screen time. Since parents can be just as guilty as teens at overusing devices, it’s also valuable to set a good example.

Smartphones are an unavoidable part of daily life for most of us, and especially teens. As long as parents help their teens use their devices responsibly, they should be able to enjoy them without experiencing the potential negative emotional issues that can come from overuse.

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