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Phone addiction creating absent parents and disengaged teens

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) - It's easy to get lost in your cell phone with texting, calling and social media. You might be surprised to know how all that activity can up to multiple hours spent on mobile devices throughout the day.

People we spoke to admitted to spending three to 10 hours a day on their devices, but the numbers can be much higher for other people. 

Therapist Dr. Joseph Marzano said he is seeing an increase in the number of people who come into his office with issues caused by cell phones. It can be as serious as a gambling addiction.

“I’ve had kids come in and say my mom doesn’t talk to us. I’ve had 12-year-olds say my mom is addicted to her phone,” Marzano said.

And it’s not just adults and parents, according to a study in Common Sense Media, 50 percent off teens feel they are addicted to their phones, 59 percent of parents agree.

"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. "What we've discovered is that kids and parents feel addicted to their mobile devices, that it is causing daily conflict in homes, and that families are concerned about the consequences. We also know that problematic media use can negatively affect children's development and that multitasking can harm learning and performance. As a society, we all have a responsibility to take media use and addiction seriously and make sure parents have the information to help them make smart choices for their families."

Marzano considers cellphone usage a problem when someone tells him they realize using it is inappropriate yet they still do it.

Being a parent himself, Marzano says keeping kids off their cellphone is easier said than done, but there are teaching moments.

 “I’ve had the most success capturing them in the moment of a failed moment. For example, if we are in a conversation at a party and they looked up startled, it’s “Oh, you just missed that didn’t you?”

Marzano says if cell phone use is causing issues in any area of your life, it's a serious problem.

“Just turn it off, put it down. If you are in a conversation with somebody at an event be at one event at a time. That’s where people get overloaded and typically that can cause stress,” Marzano said.

Key findings from the Common Sense Media survey of parents and teens include:

  • Addiction: One out of every two teens feels addicted to his or her device, and the majority of parents (59 percent) feel that their kids are addicted.
  • Frequency: Seventy-two percent of teens and 48 percent of parents feel the need to immediately respond to texts, social-networking messages, and other notifications; sixty-nine percent of parents and 78 percent of teens check their devices at least hourly.
  • Distraction: Seventy-seven percent of parents feel their children get distracted by their devices and don't pay attention when they're together at least a few times per week.
  • Conflict: One-third of parents and teens (36 percent and 32 percent, respectively) say they argue with each other on a daily basis about device use.
  • Risky behavior: Fifty-six percent of parents admit they check their mobile devices while driving; fifty-one percent of teens see their parents checking/using their mobile devices when driving.

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