Shocking number of children show signs of smartphone addiction – Washington Examiner

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Recent national surveys project that 53% of children will own a smartphone by age 11. While the reality of a child being able to utilize the features of a smartphone has provided many new benefits to both them and their parents, the harm of unlimited access to smartphone technology on a child’s mental health has many experts worried.

According to a recent systematic review conducted by researchers at King’s College London, roughly one in four children and young people who own a smartphone display what mental health experts call “problematic smartphone usage,” which can be further described as “behaviours linked to smartphone use that resemble features of addiction.”

While many people think of addiction as a behavior driven by things such as drugs, alcohol, or tobacco, the concept of addiction to technology has become a serious reality in recent years, which has caused people to display behavior similar to those with dependence on hard or soft drugs.

In their findings, the researchers sought to identify several different features of addiction to smartphone technology, including specific behaviors such as: “having an intense urge to use your phone,” “feeling panicked if it runs out of battery,” “neglecting other more important things to use it,” “spending more time on it than you first intended to,” “having other people complain about how much someone used their phone,” and “continuing to use it despite knowing how much it affected other areas of your life, including sleep or school work.”

In addition to identifying obvious displays of smartphone addiction among a large number of children with access to that technology, several of the studies included in the review also found that young individuals who displayed signs of addiction to smartphones were also more likely to report symptoms of poor mental health, including anxiety, difficulty sleeping, and even feelings of depression.

Despite the obvious harm that “problematic smartphone usage” can have on a person’s life, experts have said that they are not yet ready to classify these behaviors as an official addiction recognized by board-certified mental health professionals until further studies have been conducted. In spite of this, there is still an abundance of evidence that limiting usage of a smartphone throughout the day may prove to be beneficial towards one’s overall mental health in the long run.

John Patrick (@john_pat_rick) is a graduate of Canisius College and Georgia Southern University. He interned for Red Alert Politics during the summer of 2012 and has continued to contribute to the Washington Examiner regularly.

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