50 percent of teens report feeling 'addicted' to their phones. Are they?

Posted May 11, 2016

Common Sense Media reported that some 50 percent of American teenagers feel "addicted" to their phones. (Deseret Photo)

A new poll from Common Sense Media found that half of teens age 12-18 feel they are "addicted" to their phones.

"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," CNN's Kelly Wallace worried in her column about the poll.

While the trend might be disturbing for some parents, science and news website Big Think argues that teen tech addiction isn't always comparable to true "addiction" as we think of it, i.e. drugs or alcohol.

"Addiction is commonly defined as something that interferes with you living your life," Big Think argued. "So when it comes to your teen's "addiction" to their cell phone, it probably isn’t a true addiction, per se."

That's not to say phone use can't become a problem — one U.K. study published back in 2012 found that 60 percent of U.K. teens felt "anxious" without their devices, citing that they'd rather live without TV or chocolate than their phones.

Yet if parents are concerned about their kids' technology habits, maybe they should look in the mirror first to fix the problem. The same poll found that many parents also felt addicted to their phones. More intimidating still was that 56 percent took big risks while using tech, such as texting while driving and their kids made a note of them doing it, potentially normalizing the behavior.

"We need to devote more time and research to understanding the impact of media use on our kids and then adjust our behavior accordingly," Northwestern University's Ellen Wartella told the International Business Times.


Twitter: ChandraMJohnson


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  • Robert Fotch Jr May 11, 2016
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    Teenagers are addicted to doing absolutely nothing. Maybe if the parents stopped trying to be their friend and start being their parent, things would be different. Todays teens are so lazy it's not even funny.

  • Sam Adams May 11, 2016
    user avatar

    Here is an idea, how about not letting pre-teens and teens have smart phones or iPads? Parents are the one who are supposed to be in charge.