Smartphone addiction: is it real and is it taking over your life or the lives of your children?

CJ Coombs

Yes, smartphones have become a big part of our lives no matter where we live. 

I use my own smartphone to keep in touch with people whether family or friends. In 2020, it was a necessary part of life for many including myself with remote working. I retired early in 2021 and since then, the time I spend on my phone dramatically decreased.

Addiction to smartphones has become a growing concern for many people in recent years. People of all ages are spending more and more time on their phones, often to the detriment of their physical and mental health.

Is cell phone usage a real addiction?

Some experts give you a list of things to watch for. I've been sitting in traffic behind people who are obviously reading their phones and when the light is green, they don't move. Some people behave as though they won't live to the next minute unless and until they read a text message response. Missouri is one of two states that does not have a full ban on texting while driving. The other state is Montana. Does Missouri only have a law banning texting while driving for those who are 21 and under? Yes.

Some people behave as though they can’t live to the next minute unless and until they read a text message response.

Remember when there were no smartphones and we survived? Remember when you could go out to dinner and have a conversation with people sitting across from you? Now, when you walk into a restaurant, so many people are scrolling through their phones. Is that poor etiquette? 

The habitual routine of checking for messages on a smartphone might be part of an addiction according to some. Let’s say your phone dings because you receive a notification someone has posted something on social media, you do know it’s okay if you look at that later, right?

According to, "It is a compulsive behavior that works similarly to substance addiction in the brain." This website suggests setting time limits (especially for teenagers). For example, should anyone be on their smartphone from late in the evening to sunrise? Also, tell yourself that you will not use your phone while driving.

One of the real-time suckers for cell phone usage is social media such as Facebook. You may be on that site at designated times during your day, but some people are living on it continuously. It's been said that children and teenagers are the plugged-in generation. Some adults are too.

According to a Pew Research Center Survey performed in 2018, of the age range between 13 and 17, a large percentage are passing time by being on a cell. Some are connecting with people and both boys and girls are on it to avoid social interaction. Also, a high percentage use the cell to learn new things.

If there is such a thing as smartphone addiction, as a parent, be aware if it’s interfering with ordinary family relationships or schoolwork. I witnessed a young girl this week having some mild anxiety that her time limit on her smartphone reached its limit. She was under 13 and she was upset. I’m all for time limits on a young person’s smartphone or tablet.

You also have to wonder if teenagers are sneaking access to their smartphones when they need to be sleeping. I know some parents put them up at bedtime. Any sleep deprivation can potentially lead to poor grades in school.

I used to be on Facebook at least once a day, usually before I went to sleep. I broke that habit because it was taking up to an hour of my time.

According to, adults might start paying more attention to how often they're on their phones outside of work-related circumstances. Be aware of how many times you're checking text messages or social media notifications.

When you spend more time on social media or playing games than you do interacting with real people, or you can’t stop yourself from repeatedly checking texts, emails, or apps—even when it has negative consequences in your life—it may be time to reassess your technology use. (Source.)

It's important to learn how to structure your cell phone usage time in a healthy way. This means setting boundaries for yourself, such as not using your phone at certain times or for certain activities. For example, do you really want your whole family sitting around the dinner table looking at their smartphones while you're trying to have a conversation?

Be mindful of how you use your smartphone and what apps you use the most. By establishing these habits, you can break free from the grip of phone habits and take back control of your time.

Thanks for reading.

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Multi-genre writer and indie author with a BA in Eng Journalism & Creative Writing. My working career has been in law firms. Thinker, giver, and lover of life and retired early to be a writer. Born into Air Force service life, life has taken me to Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Missouri. I love family, art, reading, history, true crime, travel, and research.

Kansas City, MO

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