There is no doubt that cell phones have literally brought the world to our fingertips. But just who is controlling who in this relationship? CNN reported that nomophobia, the fear of not having access to your cell phone or smart device, is on the rise. With this in mind, it is important that we understand just how this phenomenon is affecting the current generation of kids. Moreover, it is important to understand how they can be helped.
According to The Newport Academy, a teen rehab and treatment center, 78 percent of teens are checking their cell phones at least hourly. It is commonly known that those suffering from addiction experience alterations in their brain chemistry, but a new study seems to suggest that teens fixated on their cell phones may be experiencing the same alteration. A team of South Korean researchers utilized a scanning technique known as magnetic resonance spectroscopy, to evaluate 19 teenagers that had been diagnosed with internet or smartphone addiction. The researchers demonstrated that kids who overused their cell phones had greater neurotransmitter activity in the region of the brain associated with behavior reward and control of inhibition. Since smartphones are still a relatively young technology, it is hard to draw from a wide birth of long-term research and point to a succinct solution to this problem. That being said, there are some expert-recommended techniques to help teens that may be suffering from this very real form of addiction.
The Newport Academy advises several techniques in order to help kids cure their addiction. Among their suggestions are stricter data limits, shutting off phones at night via cell phone provider programs, and tech timeouts for families at the dinner table. If these strategies don’t seem to be helping, professional help may be needed. In many ways, cell phones have made our lives much easier, but often times it can be hard to see the damage overuse can cause. Hopefully, further research will help lead to a more balanced relationship with our beloved cell phones.