Teens and Cellphones: Is Your Child an Addict?

More likely than not, there’s a cellphone within your reach. It seems that our entire lives are programmed around them. From scheduling convenience, to keeping in touch with friends and family, it’s really no wonder that we rely on these handy pieces of technology so much. For teens, this is very much the case as well. But how much is too much? How do you know when your teen has crossed a line and is actually addicted to their phone? Here are some signs you can look out for.

Teenage Girl Sitting With Phone In Lap - Teen Rehab Photo by JESHOOTS


Teen Girl Looking Angrily Into Camera With Phone In Hand - Teen Rehab Photo by stimpsonjake

The first sign that your teen has an addiction to their cellphone might be an obvious one: attachment. Does your teen constantly have their phone in hand, can’t (or won’t) put it down and maybe even sleeps with it? This severe attachment could be a sign that they are addicted to their phone.


Teenage Boy Looking At Phone - Teen Rehab Photo by garryknight

Another symptom of addiction to look out for is the withdrawal they might feel when they aren’t with their phone. If you’ve imposed some ground rules about when and where your teen is allowed to use their phone or if it has been taken away or lost, does your teen get extremely agitated or upset? Do they feel discomfort and like they are a bit lost? This could be because they are missing out on the feelings of reward and pleasure that their phone use gives them and could ultimately be a sign of an addiction.

Phantom Vibrations

Phones On Table - Teen Rehab Photo by Yutaka Tsutano

Another interesting phenomenon that many phone users face that could indicate a cellphone addiction is known as “phantom vibrations” or “phantom rings.” Put simply, this is when a person constantly thinks that their phone is vibrating or even ringing—even when it’s not. They might think their phone has buzzed in their pocket and check it frequently. If your teen does this, this could be another sign that they are addicted.


Teen Boy Looking At Phone - Teen Rehab Photo by andronicusmax

Does your teen feel like they are constantly missing out on something or are afraid that they might if they don’t check their phone constantly? Do they feel the burden of immediately responding to a message or checking for replies? This anxiety could also be an indication of a phone addiction.

How to Help

Phone On Table - Teen Rehab Photo by Startupstockphotos

If your teen exhibits these symptoms, there are options to help them curb their phone addictions. Set boundaries and ground rules of when and where they can use their phone and inform them that you will track their usage. You don’t necessarily need to monitor what they do on their phone, but there are options for tracking how much they use it. Finally, remember to lead by example: if you are constantly on your phone, your teen will assume it’s ok, too. So take a break from phones as a family every so often. Put them down, turn them off and enjoy quality time together instead.

Featured image longleanna