bigstock-123084785Addiction is the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as drugs to an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.

However, most people are addicted to so many things other than drugs, like television, new gadgets, gambling, caffeine, sugar and a host of them.

Another form of addiction is smartphone addiction — nomophobia. It was made to serve us humans, not the other way around. We are social beings made to interact with each other both physically and mentally. Let’s answer these questions and see how you fare, ok?

  • Do you frequently use your phone at mealtimes?
  • Do you spend more time on your phone than interacting with others in person?
  • Do you frequently use your phone when you know you should be doing something else more productive?
  • Do you frequently use your smartphone while performing tasks that require focus, e.g. completing an assignment, writing a report, driving?
  • Do you feel uncomfortable when your phone isn’t with you?
  • Do you sometimes check your phone in the middle of the night?
  • Do you find yourself spending more time texting, tweeting, or emailing as opposed to talking to r people?  
  • Do you feel reluctant to be without your smartphone, even for a short time?

How many minutes can you stay away from your smartphone without checking for notifications? Bet you have already done that at least once already while reading this article.

These are but a few questions you can ask yourself to see if you have nomophobia.

So let’s see what it means? Nomophobia (no-mobile-phobia) is defined as the fear of being out of cell phone contact.

If an adult can relate to these questions, what happens to teenagers? They are so consumed with their smartphones it looks like it is their world. Teenagers will rather send you a text message, hangout message, WhatsApp messages in lieu of talking to you personally, face to face. A “ding” of their phone will have them drop whatever they’re doing to see who “liked” their latest Facebook status, Instagram pictures or who just uploaded the latest Snapchat.

According to Pew Research Center’s survey, 92% of teenagers are going online daily, 24% of them go online on the constant basis.

87 % of young adults say that their smartphone never leaves their side, while 80% of smartphone users check their phone within 15 minutes of waking up.

These are some signs and side effects of smartphone addictions that affect teens.

Physically they may have:

  1. Digital eye strain:
    • Blurred vision
    • Eyes begin to itch and burn
    • Eye fatigue
  2. Neck problems which are referred to ‘text neck’ from excessive looking down at smartphone or tablet for too long.
  3. Car Accidents or any form of accidents that can happen when their attention is not on what they are doing, thinking they can multitask while texting. Texting and driving can be just as dangerous to drinking and driving. (11 teens die every day as a result of texting while driving. According to a AAA poll, 94% of teen drivers acknowledge the dangers of texting and driving, but 35% admitted to doing it anyway. 21% of teen drivers involved in fatal accidents were distracted by their cell phones.)

Psychologically:

  • Cell phone addiction has been linked to an increase in sleep disorders and fatigue in users.
  • Using cell phone before bed increases the likelihood of insomnia.
    • Bright light may decrease sleep quality.
    • Smartphone use could increase the amount of time it takes to fall asleep.
    • Light emitted from the cell phone may activate the brain.

As well as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Depression and Anxiety.

So how can parents help their teenagers in this case?  These are few suggestions you might want to try.

  1. Set special times for smartphone usage. This will be a hassle. If your teen is, in fact, a smartphone addict, he or she will do everything to avoid these rules. Set special times, perhaps 3 hours after school when kids can use their smartphones, access social media, play games and chat.
  2. Create “No Zones” for smartphones.Using of phones in the bathroom, kitchen while cooking, the bedroom should be disallowed.
  3. No smartphones usage at the table.This includes silent mode and “I am just going to check it really quick.” Family dinners, birthdays and general family holidays should be smartphone-free. Talking with each other should be encouraged while enjoying the family camaraderie over dinner.
  4. Let the teen know you will monitor his/her phone usage  Be upfront holding him/her accountable for his time online. You can do that by putting parental applications onto their phones. It makes you set times when the phones can be used and when it cannot. This way you will not only protect them from nomophobia but also prevent the rising cyber dangers like cyberbullying, sexting and contacts with online predators.
  5. No texting while driving or walking. This should be really stressed on by the parent, no texting while driving. Safety first. This can save their lives.
  6. Be a model for your teen. You as a parent should be a model for your teen. You cannot be breaking those rules yourself and expect them to follow it. If it’s a family time, stick to your word, no smartphone usage.
  7. Seek assistance. Some forms of nomophobia are really hard to overcome. Mental health professionals can help your child without creating family tension.

Nomophobia is real, it’s taking our teenagers out of touch from the real world. Meeting friends face to face, going for walks, riding bicycles with friends and behaving like kids. The side effects are enormous. We need our teenagers growing up to be sound in all aspects of life.