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Cell Phones Are Crippling Our Youth

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It is my belief that cell phones are crippling and incapacitating the majority of our youth. The advancements in technology have created a world where everything is literally at our fingertips. Cell phones undoubtedly play a vital role in simplifying our lives and they have become a necessity in the fast-paced world in which we live today. However, much of today’s youth tends to far exceed the use of cell phones to the point of it becoming an addiction. While there are many benefits of our children growing up with such advanced technology, there are also many downfalls.

In today’s world, it is not uncommon for children to begin using cell phones as early as their toddler years. For some parents, a cell phone provides a convenient and harmless means of entertainment for their busy toddler. Letting a child watch a movie on a cell phone might allow an overwhelmed parent to get some housework done or quiet a fussy toddler in the car. Perhaps the parents need to keep their toddler occupied during dinner in an attempt to prevent a meltdown over the child having to stay seated. All of these scenarios seem innocent enough, but many parents grow accustomed to the instant gratification and entertainment that the cell phone provides. Therefore, the parent begins depending on the cell phone to occupy their child more and more frequently. Many toddlers get their first taste of cell phone addiction at this very young age.

Fast forward a few years and those same children have gotten older and are getting their own cell phones. Before cell phones became commonplace, children spent much of their time outdoors playing with the neighborhood kids and coming up with creative ideas to avoid boredom. Today’s children seldom have to find ways to entertain themselves because their cell phones offer plenty of entertainment. Cris Rowan, a pediatric occupational therapist, states that children are not entertaining themselves, they are being entertained by a device so there is no creativity, there is no imagination, no self-initiation. She goes on to say that “these things are very important for sustainability and your own self-gratification and happiness when you are older” (qtd. in Bindley). These children who are spending hours of the day on their cell phone are missing out on key developmental play and crucial thought-provoking situations simply because their cell phone eliminates their need for thinking outside of the box.

In no time, these children are teenagers. Many of them are spending even more time on their phones. They are constantly posting on their social media apps and keeping up with their friends via text and social media. They are frequently checking their phones to see how many likes their social media posts have received. For some teens, their self-esteem hinges on the amount of likes they receive. The teens that do not receive many likes may be left feeling inadequate which could lead to low self-esteem or even depression. Many teens are in constant competition with a distorted image of reality because many people portray an unrealistic version of themselves on social media. Very seldom is one’s real life the same as it is portrayed. It is hard for some to differentiate between the reality and the manufactured version of their friends’ lives, thus causing them to unconsciously compare their own lives to the lives of their friends. On the other hand, for the teens who get an abundance of likes on their posts, the exhilaration caused by seeing the likes add up is addictive and leaves the child craving more. Dr. David Greenfield of the University of Connecticut School of Medicine suggests that using technology increases endorphin levels. He states that the constant and instant feedback that technology users receive causes the release of the brain chemical, dopamine, which makes users feel good and crave more. The quicker and more frequently they are reinforced, the more addictive it becomes (qtd. in Siegel). This need for approval and validation is a dangerous game to play since children of this age are so impressionable and are still trying to figure out who they are.

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Another downfall of cell phone addiction is the number of teens who are foregoing sleep due to the lack of self-control necessary to simply turn their phones off and go to bed. Many teens stay up late into the night browsing social media or texting with their friends. As a result, sleep deprivation has become a growing epidemic among teens today. Without adequate sleep, many of these teens are not able to perform to their best abilities in many areas of their lives. This is a terrible side effect of the hold that cell phones have over many teens. Sadly, the majority of these teens are willing to accept the sleep deprivation so that they can stay in touch with their peers at all hours of the night.

Furthermore, with the increased addiction to cell phones comes the decline in face-to-face interaction. Due to their dependence on cell phones, many children and teens are lacking in basic interpersonal and social skills. Melissa Ortega, a child psychologist at New York’s Child Mind Institute, states that children do not know how to handle conflict face-to face because so many things happen through some sort of technology. She also states that conversation takes practice and that children may have trouble initiating interactions because they are not engaging in it because they always have something else going on (qtd. in Bindley). Learning how to effectively communicate is something learned mostly by personal experience. Without years of practice, many teens will be ill-prepared to voice their concerns or ideas in personal settings. Conversations conducted via cell phone are easier to have because you can simply erase and re-type your responses before you send them. In face-to-face conversations, you must consider your body language and tone, and choose your words wisely. In a conversation through text messaging, emotions are expressed through symbols such as emojis. In a face-to-face conversation, your emotion, expression, and inflection in your voice are all on display. In addition, many teens do not see an issue with checking their phone while in the middle of a face-to-face conversation with someone. That is because many teens are so addicted to their phones that the phone takes precedence to anything else that is going on. Having to put the phone away and take the time to engage in a real conversation is not going to give them the same response that they get from engaging with their phone. Many adults would consider a child rude if they engage in their cell phone during a conversation with them. This lack of basic social and conversational skills will not bode well for them when it comes to a situation such as a job interview. Most employers are looking for confident, assertive, intuitive, and responsible employees and, unfortunately, some of these teens will not possess nor display these traits. This lack of ability to effectively communicate with others in a personal setting is a huge detriment to this age group.

Taking a cell phone away from a teenager or child as punishment is a true testament to just how addicted they are to their device. There once was a time when my children needed a reminder that there are more important things in the world than their cell phones. In order to snap them back into reality, I took their phones away from them for an extended period of time. At first, they were angry and moody, and acted as though they could not function without their phones. They asked me when they would be getting their phones back every day. It put a damper on their social lives, and for the first couple of days they stayed in their rooms as if to avoid the person who caused them such misery. However, after a few days, they emerged from their rooms completely transformed into former versions of the children who existed before their addiction took over. They were once again the happy, talkative, family-oriented children that I knew them to be. They spent more time in the family room hanging out together than they did being closed off in their bedrooms. Their attitudes and overall demeanors were much more pleasant than they had been when they had their phones in their hands constantly. It was as if they had to detox from their cell phones, much like a drug addict has to detox from a drug. Taking their cell phones away from them ended up being one of the best things I have ever done for them. They were oblivious to the fact that their cell phones occupied so much of their time and attention, and they were unaware of the addiction that was consuming them. Honestly, I had not realized the hold that their phones had over them until I decided to take them away. Since that instance, I have made a conscious effort to be mindful of the amount of time my children spend on their phones. I do believe that there are many benefits to them having their own phones and I do not regret allowing my children to have cell phones. However, it is imperative that I do not let their phones consume them. Afterall, I am trying to raise competent, well-rounded children and I cannot do that if they never put their phones down and come up for air.

In conclusion, there is a real problem between our youth and the amount of time they are spending on their cell phones. Just as any addiction goes, the person with a cell phone addiction lacks the self-control needed to know when to turn it off. This cell phone addiction has such a strong hold on many children and teens today that I would consider cell phones a means of incapacitating our youth. They cannot function without their phones, but ironically, their phones are crippling them in ways they are not aware of.

Works Cited

  1. Bindley, Katie. “When Children Text All Day, What Happens to Their Social Skills?” HuffPost, 9 Dec. 2011.
  2. Siegel, Del. “The Dark Side of Using Technology”. Gifted Child Today, vol. 40, no. 4, Oct. 2017, pp. 232-235. EBSCO Host, GALILEO.

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Cell Phones Are Crippling Our Youth. (2022, October 28). Edubirdie. Retrieved October 3, 2023, from
“Cell Phones Are Crippling Our Youth.” Edubirdie, 28 Oct. 2022,
Cell Phones Are Crippling Our Youth. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 3 Oct. 2023].
Cell Phones Are Crippling Our Youth [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Oct 28 [cited 2023 Oct 3]. Available from:
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