In today's world, our children are exposed to technology in a way we never weren. In a time where instant gratification is the norm, and the cellphone is an item that no teen can possibly do without, more and more children are suffering from what is becoming known as "cellphone addiction." This could almost be compared to reading a good book – wanting to see how it all ends, unable to put it down except that this isn't a book. And it doesn't really have an end.

A child's social life seems wrapped up in a simple handheld device. At an age where we were writing proper letters on paper, today's youth are typing and texting each other – with instantaneous results. They text their friends regularly or upload pictures to social networks. Receive excellent and lousy news unexpectedly when out and about. Everything takes place at the last moment. Arrangements can be made and rearranged at the click of a button. They are always available and are contacted as the mood strikes.

The youth are more social and yet more anti-social than ever before. It is easier for them to chat "online" via text than simply call or talk to someone face to face. Feel emotions are expressed using emoticons rather than listening to someone. This is because, with the introduction of instant chats and SMS bundles (or even complimentary text messages), communication is becoming simpler and faster. The youth do not use predictive text simply because it takes longer to SMS using this feature, and a whole word eats up many characters. The dictionary as we know it is being redefined.

Behavior to Look Out For

  • There are a few things that parents can watch out for in their child's mobile phone behavior:
  • High cellphone bills. Is the child doing whatever he or she can to obtain airtime (such as begging, borrowing, and possibly even stealing money)?
  • Is the child "glued" to the cell phone? Their eyes never left the screen for a moment.
  • Is the cell phone always in hand? Can they put it down when sitting with family or watching television, or are they constantly playing with it?
  • Are they using their cell phones in inappropriate places? For instance, in a restaurant, at a dinner table, or at a movie theatre.

Advice to Parents

  • If you are worried that your child may be developing an unhealthy relationship with their cellphone, there are various things you can do, or if you are thinking about giving your child a cellphone, there are different guidelines you can follow, namely:
  • Set guidelines for when it is ok and not to use the cellphone (i.e., at the dinner table is a "no-no"). The cell phone must be left in the living area when the children go to bed (children are now apparently "SMS'ing in their sleep").
  • Set time limits for how long they can use and play with their cellphone each day.
  • Ensure that they still have face-to-face contact with their friends.
  • Inform children of the dangers of chatrooms and Internet surfing.
  • Understand the technology that your children are using.
  • Be aware of and join the social networks that your children are frequenting.
Interact at their level, being sure to bring them to understand the importance of face-to-face communication.

These measures should be implemented at an early stage of the child-cellphone relationship. However, if you have tried these various things and still feel your child has a cellphone addiction, consult a psychologist.