Alaska Sleep Education Center

How Your Teen's Smartphone Addiction Affects Their Sleep.

Posted by Stefanie Leiter

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on Mar 26, 2021 2:58:00 AM

Portrait of a young amazed woman showing blank smartphone screen over yellow background. Focus on smartphone

In 2016, a report by Common Sense Media found that 50 percent of teens felt addicted to their mobile device. Common Sense initiated the research to better understand mobile technology's impact on children's physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development and to identify families' need for support.

"Mobile devices are fundamentally changing how families go about day-to-day lives, be it doing homework, driving, or having dinner together," said James Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense. 

A Pew Research study in 2018 found 45 percent of teens felt social media was neither a positive or negative effect in their lives.

Today, more reports are coming out of the pandemic finding new research on Smart device addiction and teens. A study released this week found a 15 percent increase in those surveyed stating social media makes them feel better when they are stressed, depressed, or anxious. Of those surveyed, 26 percent said they find social media very important to get support or advice when depressed.

All of this is adding up to more Smartphone addictions and a fear of missing out (FOMO). FOMO research started in 1996 and shifted toward the phenomenon of social media usage. Social media has become a lifestyle with bragging rights. When we aren’t invited to the party of a friend, we obsess over why through viewing pictures of who is there taking our place.

With 8 to 10 hours sleep needed for a teen, studies show an average of 6.9 hours sleep by the time they enter senior year: a 1.5 hour decrease from sixth grade. This segment of the population equates to 69 percent of American teens sleeping less than 7 hours of sleep per night.

The Ohio State University conducted a study finding cell phone addiction is linked to an increase in sleep disorders and fatigue especially when used before bedtime. With 57 percent of teens not switching off their cell phones at night, Family Community Health Journal did a study of where your phone sleeps at night. Only 16 percent of people keep their phone in another room at night with one third of teens texting after going to sleep from their bed.

According to a study in the American Psychiatric Association and Psychiatry Journal, at least four of the following signs may indicate an addiction:

  • A persistent need to login everyday to social media channels.
  • Consistently trying to take apps off with failure.
  • Fear of missing out on what friends or family members are doing.
  • When anxious or depressed, you reach for the phone.
  • Losing sense of time because of distractions on the phone.
  • Putting a relationship or job at risk due to cell phone use.
  • Desiring the brand new technology.
  • “Withdrawal, when cell phone or network is unreachable:
    • Anger;
    • Tension;
    • Depression;
    • Irritability; and
    • Restlessness”

Psycom, an online psychiatric journal, recommends a parent asking the following questions to help verify an addiction:

  • “Does my teen become angry, irritable, anxious, or even violent when the phone is taken away or unable to be used?
  • Does my teen skip or avoid social events or extracurricular activities to use the smartphone instead?
  • Is my teen’s personal care (hygiene), friendships, family relationships, or school work negatively affected by smartphone use?
  • Does smartphone use interfere with my teen’s normal sleep routine?
  • Are there any major changes in my teen’s eating habits that can’t otherwise be explained?
  • Are there any major changes in mood that can’t otherwise be explained?”

If you find yourself still having sleep troubles after trying these tips, it could be a sign of a sleep disorder. If you would like to talk with a sleep specialist about your sleep issues, contact The Alaska Sleep Clinic for a free 10-minute phone consultation and let us help you decide if a sleep study may be right for you.

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Topics: insomnia, teens, addiction, smartphone

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