Why are children addicted to smartphones

Digital immigrants Smartphone addiction

More and more parents realize day after day: their children are hardly accessible. Listening does not work so well, among other things, because you have headphones in your ears all the time. Her gaze is fixed on her hand because the smartphone is in it. It is always and everywhere: school, bed or bathroom - it doesn't matter. Hand and cell phone seem to have grown together.

You are not alone!

All parents have the problem at the moment. You notice: it feels like my child is only playing, it is only chatting, it is no longer present.

This can be problematic for family life, because parents often have little understanding for the constant typing, chatting and watching videos. Anyone who has such a youngster at home quickly tells friends and family members that their own child has developed a real smartphone addiction. At the moment there are not that many children and young people who are really dependent - especially not on smartphones.

Addiction or Excessive Use?

According to media educator Müsgens, the term addiction is chosen quickly, but neither mobile phone nor social media addiction are recognized as official addictions. Nevertheless, there are different studies on this and they show that younger children in particular tend to be more dependent on social media and mobile phones than other users.

Dr. Iren Schulz from the Schau Hin initiative is still cautious when it comes to the term mobile phone addiction. In her opinion, people in Germany in particular are always skeptical of new media.

As soon as a new medium appears, it is first of all the bogeyman for all sorts of negative phenomena in children and adolescents. It started back then with the cinemas, that was also the case with books, and then for many years it was computer games. And now it's the digital applications. And I always warn against using the term addiction in such an inflationary way.

As a psychologist, of course, I look at it from the perspective of what an addiction actually means. And then there are many children of whom parents say their children are not addicted to cell phones - according to the criteria of addiction.

In order to be able to speak of addiction at all, different criteria have to be met, explains the psychologist. In an addiction, everything revolves around the object of the addiction. That is, normal life is organized around addiction. If one were to withdraw the object, it would lead to withdrawal symptoms. Because of the habituation, a dose increase is also required. However - according to the experts - it is not just the time that you spend with the medium that is decisive, but an inappropriately high status in a person's life.

A look at the behavior of adolescents addicted to games shows what actual addictive behavior can look like: They play all night, neglect themselves, no longer eat, skip school and in extreme cases no longer even go to the bathroom. Most of the children and adolescents who spend a lot of time with their cell phones are far from that - says psychologist Wolf.

What we usually see in the cell phone area is not yet an addiction. The pupils go to school as normal and then hopefully turn off the cell phone. You also meet friends. It runs on the side, but life is not organized around the cell phone. The cell phone is still a part of her life.