HealthWatch: Teen Texting Addiction

NEW YORK (CBS 2) — Texting has become the preferred mode of communication for teens, but is it really an addiction?
CBS 2’s Dr. Max Gomez reports.

“I think that it’s just like a drug. Once you get hooked onto it you cannot go. It’s like whenever I open my eyes, the first thing I look at is my phone,” said teen Hermine Vardanian.

The average teen sends 3,000 texts a month. “What they like to do is text rather than talk, so if you call them, they go ‘Mom, why don’t you just text me? Why’d you have to call me?” said mother Cara Steinberg.

Eighty-percent of all kids own a cell phone and the rate of texting has skyrocketed 600-percent in three years.

“It clearly fits the criteria of an addiction,” said Dr. Gary Small.

Psychiatrist Dr. Gary Small, author of “iBrain: Surviving The Technological Alteration Of The Modern Mind,” said neuroimaging studies have shown teens who text light up the same area of the brain as an addict who uses heroin.

“In a very primitive part of the brain, the dopamine system gets triggered. That’s the general reward system in our brain,” he said.

What about teens and sleep disorders, because it seems that most teens are sleep deprived? Some of it is because school schedules for teens just don’t match up with their normal bio-rhythms.

In fact some education experts say we should move high-school start times later in the morning, but Dr. Gomez visited one sleep clinic that found many teens are sleep-deprived because they’re texting when mom and dad think they’re sleeping.

So if your teen is always tired, check to see if they’re texting under the covers or when you’re asleep.

Solution? Take the phone away at night.

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  • Elarin

    James, you don’t have to break the phone from the grip of your teen. Most companies give the parent tools to control and even block texting, internet and app usage. The key is parenting. Be consistent, and follow through with consequences of rule breaking. No, it is not easy, but think about who is running the house, the parents or the teens? If you can’t control the phone, I would have to say the teen is running the house. We are parents, not friends at this stage. Friends comes later when the teen realizes that parents were smart after all (usually about 30). I know this because I have gone through this with my son. Kids are attached to their phones, so they will follow the rules required to keep the phone. Parents, be strong, consistent, and eventually, the message will get through.

  • kristine

    Hello! I was looking for something to read then I found yours, nice blog!
    I check out the whole stuff and its really interesting. Hope to check out more from you . Keep it up!

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  • TT

    Are you saying kids today evolved ? Sorry buddy, changes don’t happen that fast. Control your kids through proper parenting. If you don’t want them to have a cellphone or control texting, it can be done properly.

    • srg

      Yes it can be done properly. To many parents these days don’t discipline. I have Verizon and I can turn off there phone with out taking it from them. I can also control the hours and who they text. Cell phones are a privilege.

  • James

    Yeah good luck breaking the phone free from your teens grip!- You can’t just take the phone away from a teen- they are not 4 year olds. The mere suggestion of taking the phone away so your teen will get more sleep is shortsighted on your behalf Dr. Gomez. Children are not the same as they were 30 or 40 years ago. You can’t control them the same way.

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