I am frustrated by my teen’s cell phone addiction

Last night I was TRYING to find out why my daughter was in such a grumpy mood. When I went into her room to speak with her, it was as if she could only sort of hear me.

She was tapping away on the keyboard of her cell phone. When I brought to her attention that I was next to her in person, trying to have a conversation, she told me she was tired and didn’t feel like talking. I told her she was being rude and stomped out of the room.

Ugh, the life of a 21st Century mom!

Apparently, my daughter’s world exists on the little screen in her hand and at that moment, she didn’t want to make me part of it. That’s what we’re up against, parents. Sure we have an addiction to our cell phones, too. But get prepared because our teen addiction to their phones is about to get worse. The next generation is doing almost EVERYTHING from their cell phones.

One in four teens are cell-mostly Internet users, according to the Pew Research Centers Internet and American Life Projects Teens and Technology 2013 report. Moreover, one in three middle school students use mobile devices to complete their homework.

Did you know most teens sleep with their phones nearby — some even with their phones under their pillows —  just  in case a friend contacts them. Experts say this “on call” status has come to reflect obligation, anxious need, and even addiction.

Teens who use their cell phones to text are 42% more likely to sleep with their phones than teens who own phones but don’t text.  Let’s be real, here. Most teens these days use their phones to text. Teens are supposed to text in the middle of soccer games, music lessons, lacrosse practice or  karate classes  — but I’ve seen them try!

It’s become even more challenging at my house to enforce rules that everyone shuts off cell phones and no one texts at dinner, even if it’s just two of us sitting down for pizza. Still, I’m hanging tough and enforcing dinnertime rules  and that sometimes makes me the bad guy.

Some parents are enforcing cell phone curfews — no cell use after a certain time at night.  One mom told me that for her son, telling his friends that his cell phone was shut off after 11 PM actually gave him an out.

I recently read about another mother who suggested that her teens tell friends that all cell phones will be unreachable during the night as they will be on a charger pad. When her daughter voiced worry about a friend who was having a difficult time and might need someone to call – the Mom validated the concern but invited her daughter to give their house number as an emergency back-up. We all know no kid is going to call the house phone these days!

I think our kids need downtime from their phones. They just don’t know they need it. So, it’s up to us parents, and that’s not an easy job.

We have provided our teens with a high-tech world of endless connectivity. Now, we have to teach them the value of disconnecting — especially when mom is in the room!

Parents, how are you handling your teen addiction to their cell phones  and the need for constant connectivity? Do you think we as parents should embrace the new normal or should we try to encourage our kids to turn off their phones more often?


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  1. Kristen January 9, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    We have a rule in our house that applies to anyone under 16. All phones and iPods are plugged in my room at bedtime. Even on the weekends! The kids used to complain but now it’s become a habit. We will see how long it lasts before the complaints start again. 🙂

  2. Karla Knapp March 29, 2020 at 4:13 pm

    absolutely! I use this amazing app called OUR PACT and she is on a schedule…it is only $6.99 a month but worth every penny! If it was our time the TV would be off by a certain time so what is the difference?


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