SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — As teenagers enjoy some downtime on Christmas break, many will spend a great deal of time on their smartphones. But all that time on their gadgets can take quite a toll on their well being.
It’s tough to separate teenagers these days from their smartphones. But all that message texting, web surfing and game playing can come with a price on their health. “Unfortunately, we’re seeing more and more of it… both on a behavioral health side but also on a medical side,” said Geisinger Family Physician Anthony Wylie.
It’s because of what a recent study concluded is smartphone addiction. The brain reacts to smartphones like it does to drugs. Prolonged use can cause an imbalance in brain chemistry especially for teens using their devices late at night. Dr. Wylie said, “It’s not allowing our brain to necessarily shut off and get into a good sleep pattern.”
Besides insomnia, teens with smartphone addiction can suffer from anxiety and depression which Dr. Wylie says often requires medical intervention. “When we look at the treatment of anxiety or depression, many of the medications revolve around seratonin.”
Teens can actually show signs of smartphone withdrawal including nausea, sweating and shaking. So what should we, as parents, do to intervene before it becomes a big problem? Dr. Wylie recommends applying strict data rules, consider family limits — and put some technology to use yourself. “There are safety monitoring tools out there that we can actually see and regulate how much screen time that our children have.”
Besides being proactive, parents must also practice what they preach. Getting your teens to follow the rules means making sure you set the right example.
50 percent of kids admit they are addicted to their smartphones. The average age of children getting their first cell phone is ten-years-old.