5 Triggers that Make Your Teen Reach For Their Phone When They Shouldn’t

5 Triggers that Make Your Teen Reach For Their Phone When They Shouldn't

Smartphones keep people connected with others; bring us the news, weather and entertainment; monitor our finances; and help them with their homework or workload. People spend so much time “plugged in” that they might not realize just how attached to their cell phone that they are. However, this high level of usage makes it easy to develop an addiction to the phone, especially for teens.

What Is a Phone Addiction?

Your teen might be addicted to his or her phone if he uses it in the following ways:

  • Compulsive online behaviors – These include shopping, gambling and games, which are especially problematic for teens.
  • Compulsive internet use – If your teen neglects school or your family, he might have a phone addiction.
  • Replacing in-person relationships – While most people use their phone to stay connected via social media, these relationships sometimes become more important than real-life relationships.

What Triggers Your Teen?

Your teen might use his or her phone to cope with triggers instead of confronting the situation head on.

  • Homework – Instead of doing homework, your teen might procrastinate by reaching for the phone. Or he or she might claim that they need to do research on the internet on their phone.
  • Arguments with friends or family members – After an argument with you or a sibling, your teen might hide out in their bedroom, distracting themselves with their phone.
  • Phone lights and sounds – When your teen’s phone lights up, buzzes or even vibrates, he might automatically reach for it, fearful of missing out on what’s happening. Your child might even reach for if he should be focusing on a family event or on schoolwork. One simple solution is to turn off those notifications.
  • Loneliness – While people are more connected than ever, they also seem more isolated and lonelier than ever. That loneliness can drive them to seek some sort of resolution via their phones.
  • Boredom – Teens used to spend time with their families at meals, participate in sports or music, work on chores and do homework. When they finished with those responsibilities, they read, relaxed, visited with family members or watched television. Now, they grab their smartphone instead, isolating themselves in their bedroom. It’s one thing for your teen to wind down at the end of the evening with your phone for 30 to 60 minutes; it’s another for him or her to stay up on the phone all night long.

What Can You Do to Fight Your Teen’s Cellphone Addiction?

If your teen’s cellphone usage has become a problem, you can take the following steps:

  • Track cellphone usage through your provider. Contact your provider to see if they can put limits on data usage per device.
  • Insist on no phones during family meals.
  • Encourage your teen to be present and enjoy time with loved ones.
  • Cut off cellphone use after a certain time at night, taking his or her phone if necessary. Give the phone back to your teen in the morning.
  • Seek therapy if your think that his or her cellphone use is controlling him or her.

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