If You Give A Teen A Smartphone

If you give a teen a smartphone

When you consider that more teenagers own smart phones than adults and that almost half of all teenagers have smartphones, you begin to understand the weight of social pressure your teen feels to have one. But before you rush to the nearest cell phone store, consider the positives and negatives of adding that extra line.

Positives of Teen Smart Phone Possession

  • In our world fueled by technology, teens with smartphones will have an advantage of gaining more internet skills than those with less exposure to tech devices.
  • Though studies show your teen is more likely to contact their friend than you, having a smartphone significantly increases the likelihood of your teen contacting you daily.
  • Smartphones are especially useful in emergency situations.

Negatives of Teen Smart Phone Possession

  • Some studies suggest at least 60% of teens are addicted to smart phones. Addiction has been seen to increase impulse control disorders and cause withdrawal or difficulty performing ordinary daily activities.
  • There is a correlation between negative academic performance and smartphone use.
  • Teens with smartphones are more likely to be exposed to cyber bullying and potentially harmful images.
  • Increased use of smartphones can be a sign of underlying depression or other negative emotions and can lead to Problematic Use of Mobile Phone (PUMP).

After weighing the positives and negatives, if you decide to give a teen a smart phone here are some things you can do as a parent to keep the potential negatives from spiraling out of control:

  • Establish rules for smartphone use (i.e. no phones at the dinner table, amount of time/ time of the day phones can be used, and types of apps allowed).
  • Consider purchasing software that helps you monitor and filter apps your teen uses. Many of these programs let you customize which apps you block and allow you to set time restrictions. Some programs also allow you to monitor text messages and give you real-time location tracking. One of the highest-rated programs, Mobile Spy, even gives you the ability to look at deleted information from your child’s phone. Other highly rated programs include Mobistealth, PhoneSheriff, and Qustodio Parental Control. Higher-rated software can run anywhere from about $2 to $24 a month. Check out features and pricing to see which is best for your family.
  • Monitor your teens smartphone use. If you notice them spending unhealthy amounts of time on their phone and showing signs of depression, work to increase the amount of face-to-face interaction your child gets and find them opportunities to connect to nature.

If you give a teen a smartphone, you are giving them access to a new world. As they get sucked deeper into their screen, remember you have the ability and responsibility to pull them back into reality.


  • Alleviating depression only to become problematic mobile phone users: Can face-to-face communication be the antidote? http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S074756321500401X
  • Smartphone Addiction Scale: Development and Validation of a Short Version for Adolescents. Min Kwon, Dai-Jin Kim, Hun Cho, and Soo Yang. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3877074/
  • Mascheroni, G. and Ólafsson, K. (2014). Net Children Go Mobile: risks and opportunities. Second Edition. Milano: Educatt. http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/56986/1/__lse.ac.uk_storage_LIBRARY_Secondary_libfile_shared_repository_Content_Net%20Children%20Go%20Mobile%20Project_Reports_Net%20children%20go%20mobile%20risks%20and%20opportunities%20%282nd%20ed.%29.pdf
  • Smartphones’ Effects on Academic Performance of Higher Learning Students. Iringa, Tanzania. Journal of Multidisciplinary Engineering Science and Technology. http://www.jmest.org/wp-content/uploads/JMESTN42350643.pdf
  • The Comprehensive Handbook of School Safety. Edited by E. Scott Dunlap. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=PTLOBQAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA59&dq=teenagers+and+smartphones&ots=oTvp9Q82TQ&sig=QR1kX_wyE3Z0HK59gETPI9F9Ph8#v=onepage&q=enagers%20and%20smartphones&f=false

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