Half of teens think they’re addicted to their smartphones
CNN)I don’t have teenagers yet, but watching my 8- and 10-year-olds spend endless amounts of time on iPads during spring break makes me worried about the day — hopefully years from now — when they have their own devices.
A new poll that confirms just how much teens depend on their phones gives me even more to worry about.
Fifty percent of teens feel they are addicted to their mobile devices, according to the poll, which was conducted for Common Sense Media, a nonprofit focused on helping children, parents, teachers and policymakers negotiate media and technology. A larger number of parents, 59%, said their teens were addicted. The poll involved 1,240 interviews with parents and their children, ages 12 to 18.
“Technological addiction can happen to anyone,” said digital detox expert Holland Haiis, who describes technology as “the new 21st century addiction” in her book “Consciously Connecting: A Simple Process to Reconnect in a Disconnected World.”
“If your teens would prefer gaming indoors, alone, as opposed to going out to the movies, meeting friends for burgers or any of the other ways that teens build camaraderie, you may have a problem.”
How to cut your kids' cell phone addiction
How many teens are truly addicted to their devices and the Internet? It is difficult to say. A 2011 review of 18 research studies found that Internet addiction might affect between zero and 26% of adolescents and college students in the United States, according to Common Sense Media. And, while Internet addiction is viewed as a public health threat in other parts of the world, it is not yet a recognized disorder in the United States. After reviewing all the existing research, Common Sense Media concludes that more study is needed to determine how real digital addiction is, and what the signs and consequences could be.
Whether it is an addiction or not, two-thirds of parents — 66% — feel their teens spend too much time on their mobile devices, and 52% of teens agree, according to the poll.
‘Teenage zombies’ consumed by phones
Nearly 80% of teens in the new survey said they checked their phones hourly, and 72% said they felt the need to immediately respond to texts and social networking messages. Thirty-six percent of parents said they argued with their child daily about device use, and 77% of parents feel their children get distracted by their devices and don’t pay attention when they are together at least a few times per week.
Terry Greenwald, a father of three grown children, works as a custodian at a high school in Homer, Alaska, and said the hallways are often half-filled with “teenage zombies who are glued to their phones.”
They often walk near the walls so they can move from class to class without looking away from their screens, he said. “It gets interesting when they get to the stairways and the walls end for the stairway,” he said. “They don’t want to look up and they don’t way to tumble down the stairs but often just slow way down and inch along until they reach the wall just past the opening. They are often late to the next class, but that’s OK because they were successful at not diverting attention from their phone.”