When you get in your car, you reach for it. When you’re at work, you take a break to have a moment alone with it. When you get into an elevator, you fondle it. Cigarettes? Cup of coffee? Nope, it’s the third most addictive substance in modern life, the cell phone. And experts say it is becoming more difficult for many people to curb their longing to hug it more tightly than most of their personal relationships. It may not come as a big surprise to everyone, but teenagers currently make up the majority of the world’s cell phone users.
And while their continued growth may not be surprising, some of the statistics might shock you. While roughly 71% of North American teens own a cell phone, about 96% of 16-17 year old students in Japan also own their own cell phones. If you ask some parents, they believe their teenaged offspring could very well be addicted to their phones. Some have noticed changes in the child’s behavior. They’ve seen their child become paranoid whenever they would miss a call or text message.
They’ve watched their sons and daughters show signs of depression and apprehensiveness when they are unable to locate their phone. Many teenagers encounter additional problems at their school, at their work, or at home. Excessive cell phone usage can lead to addiction, especially in teens, as well as time wasted on compulsive communication with peers via text messages and phone calls. Talking or sending SMS text messages on a cell phone while driving is proven to be as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol.
A study by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine found that excessive use of cell phones causes teens and young adults to experience restlessness, difficulty falling and staying asleep, and increased susceptibility to stress and fatigue. Cell phone usage is expensive and can hinder one’s socioeconomic progression, causing elevated stress levels. Improper disposal of cell phones and their batteries can release harmful, non-biodegradable chemicals into the environment.