Cell Phone Addiction

Cell Phone Addiction – The Signs and How to Treat It

Most cell phones sold today are “Smartphones”.  They are treated as “smart” because they include the features of a computer. They are so practical, affordable and productive, that they have become an essential tool for everyday life. However, cell phone addiction has become just as much of a problem as drugs or alcohol. Cell phone addiction is when a person is unable to separate themselves from their phone, for more than a minute at a time.

Cell Phone Addiction is usually referred to as a Behavioral Disorder.  It is more common in teens.  It is characterized by a person’s chronic using of, and obsession with, a cell phone. It sounds strange but a cell phone can become too important in a person’s life. The bottom line is, if a phone is negatively impacting the quality of life — there is a problem. There is even a new acronym FOMO.  It is the ‘Fear of Missing Out’ syndrome. That is, by doing something other than regularly checking in on your phone you might miss something of importance.


  • Fiddling with a cell phone every spare minute.
  • Walking around the house with a phone.
  • Regularly checking the screen to see if there are any missed messages
  • Thinking your phone is ringing, but it is not
  • Having dinner with the phone on the table
  • Having a large (often unaffordable) cell phone bill.
  • Sleeping with the phone next to you
  • Feeling compelled to have the newest technology
  • Interacting more with technology and less with people
  • Annoying friends and family by always checking the phone

The Causes of Addiction

Dependency is brought about by a number of factors; so a cell phone attachment issue, may be one piece of a larger addiction.  Cell phones have become such an important part of our culture, it might seem silly to label it as an “addiction.”  However, it becomes a problem when (simply put) it starts creating problems.  If someone is more dedicated to checking their phone than living life, there is a good chance that there are some underlying issues.smartphone cellphone texting addiction

Options for Treatment

Just like any addiction, treatment programs can take many forms. They may include:

  • psychotherapy
  • cognitive-behavior therapy
  • behavioral management training;
  • parent education (if the addict is a child or young adult)
  • social skills training
  • family support services

If it is determined that the person needs medication (in addition to the behaviorally based treatment) it is often most effective if both types of treatment are employed together. If a medication-based treatment is used, then the on-going monitoring of the medication’s effects and effectiveness is critical.

If you, or a loved one suffers from a technology based addiction, call us for help.

How Can You Control Your Teen’s Cell Phone Use?

If you’re the parent of a teen, then you’re probably familiar with the issue of excessive cell phone use. It’s likely that a cell phone dominates your teen’s life. If you’re concerned about cell phone use growing out of control, there are steps you can take to keep it in check.

If you’re the parent of a teen, then you’re probably familiar with the issue of excessive cell phone use. It’s likely that a cell phone dominates your teen’s life. If you’re concerned about cell phone use growing out of control, there are steps you can take to keep it in check.

Cell Phone Use Skyrocketing

Teens are becoming increasingly inseparable from their cell phones. According to a 2010 report by the Pew Research Center, approximately 75% of teens between ages 12 and 17 own cell phones. That number grew dramatically from 45% in 2004.

Teens contact their friends using cell phones more than in any other way, including face-to-face talking, emailing and instant messaging. Within the context of cell phone communication, text messaging is even more popular than calling, with 54% of teens texting their friends daily, compared to 38% who call friends. Only 33% of teens talk to their friends face-to-face. Generally, teens become more reliant upon their phones as they get older, with 77% of 17-year-olds texting friends daily, compared to 35% of 12-year-olds.

Controlling Phone Use

There are numerous reasons you may be concerned about your teen’s rampant cell phone use. You may be fretting that the phone is dominating your teen’s life. The phone could be a distraction from important schoolwork. Many parents wish their teens focused more on live human interaction. Finally, cell phones aren’t free. Your teen may be costing you a small fortune in calling minutes, a texting plan and overage fees.

Some parents have their teens sign cell phone use contracts. These contracts can stipulate a variety of things. For example, they may include call minute or texting limits, phone curfew times or rules about proper cell phone behavior. They can also be an agreement from the teen to pay part of each month’s cell phone bill. Templates for such contracts are available on the Internet.

Another option is to give your teen a prepaid phone or enroll in a pay-as-you-go plan. For teens who struggle to control their minutes or texts, this can be an ideal option. These phones and plans have strict caps on usage. Rather than face overage fees when the limits are up, the phones simply cease to work until more money is paid.

Monitor Usage

As a parent, one of the most effective steps you can take to remain in control of your teen’s cell phone use is to be cognizant of how the phone is being used. Fortunately, the tools for close monitoring of your teen’s phone are easy to find. Most major cell phone providers allow you to monitor the overall usage on your plan by line. You can typically check which numbers are called or calling, including when the calls occur and how long they last.

According to the Pew Research Center, 64% of parents claim they monitor their child’s phone. This includes not only checking the bill, but also checking the physical phone. You may want to periodically check your teen’s phone to see the nature of the text messages being sent or received, as well as the pictures stored on the phone. You can cross-reference the phone against the bill to ensure that inappropriate texts aren’t being deleted without your knowledge.

If your teen is like most, then he or she relies upon you to fund his or her cell phone habit. This affords you essential control over how the phone is used. The ultimate consequence of a violation of your agreement with your teen should be a confiscation of the phone, whether it’s to protect your teen or your wallet.