Just say “No” to Smartphones for Teens

Once you say "yes," there's no going back.

Once you say “yes,” there’s no going back.

Just say NO to Smartphones for Teens

If you’re a parent or guardian who’s on the fence about getting a smartphone for a teen, think very carefully about it before you say “yes.”  Nine out of 10 parents I have spoken with who did, regret the decision.

Following is an excerpt from a blog that appears on The Huffington Post (click on the title of this blog entry for the full text):

 Mobile devices can be damaging to a young person’s psyche and it’s easy to get hooked. A recent South Korean report found that the smartphone addiction rate was 18% among teenagers.  Dr. Jonghun Lee, a professor of psychiatry and the study’s lead researcher, presented the findings at the American Psychiatric Association’s annual meeting this summer. He stressed that the more smartphones are overused, the greater the risk for severe psychopathologies in adolescents. Those who are dependent on them experience anxiety, insomnia and depression.  Some self-aware teens are realizing the toll that checking their smartphones is taking on them.  An 18-year old girl told a newspaper reporter recently, said, “I hate doing it, but I can’t help it…Why did I buy a smartphone? Sometimes I stay up all night using Facebook and Twitter.  I quickly became addicted.” 

A Pew Research Center study found teenage smartphone usage increased 23 percent from 2011 to 2012 and that 37 percent of teenagers owned smartphones last year. Dr. Lee says, “The number of adolescents addicted will increase because the popularization of smartphones is an inevitable social trend. And the younger they are, the more vulnerable they are.”

There’s a lot of talk about limits, balance and moderation. But setting restrictions on smartphone and Internet usage is easier said than done. The Web has become a necessity for homework, school communications and research. So it can be hard to distinguish between an assignment, recreational viewing or school-related texting. Monitoring usage consistently, enforcing time constraints and being on top of content can be overwhelming for most busy parents. This becomes even more difficult when their kids are literally carrying the Internet around with them.  

Parents who say “no” level the playing field for the kids who don’t own smartphones.  Moms and dads unite!  Teachers, other parents, society-at-large and your kids (eventually) will thank you.