Phone Addiction is Destroying Gen Z


Photo by Adrian Swancar

A boy turns to his phone after feeling anxious.

According to a survey of 74 Bingham students, 68% claim to spend anywhere between 4 and 10 hours a day on their phones. If we average this out to 7 hours a day, that means that these students spend about 50 hours each week on their phones. Over the span of a year, this would average to about 2,600 hours of screen time. If this isn’t concerning enough, at this rate the average Bingham student will spend over 21 years of their lifetime staring at a phone screen, assuming that they live to be 72 years old (the national average). Phone addiction is a problem because it not only wastes years of students’ lives, but it can also damage their self-image and lower their productivity.

The most common reason why teens are addicted to their phones is because of social media.

“Social media can give teens a dopamine burst, which makes you feel good, and makes them crave it and even have withdrawals. It can be just as addicting as substances and have similar effects on the brain,” said Clinton Thurgood, school psychologist at Bingham. 

Social media draws you in and makes it hard to leave their app. This obsessive nature of phones can also cause a huge lowering of productivity. Things like homework or cleaning your room can become nearly impossible with your phone in your hand. 

To be truly productive, you need to become fully absorbed in what you are doing. Constantly checking your phone pulls your attention away from what you are trying to get done and stops you from finding a good workflow. This significantly reduces your ability to get things done. 

Sadly, hurting productivity is not the only problem phone addiction causes. The specific apps on your phone might be even more damaging than the phone itself. 

Social media apps like Instagram, Snapchat, and Tiktok are very popular. There are some benefits to these types of apps, like connecting with other people and being able to stay up to date with the lives of friends and family. However, the negative aspects of social media tend to outweigh the positives. 

One of the biggest drawbacks of social media is that it harms many teens’ self-esteem.

 “Since so much on social media is over-glorified/exaggerated, teens can feel that they are missing out, their life is not as amazing as others, and they are comparing themselves to unreal standards. This can lead to feelings of depression and anxiety,” said Thurgood.

A lot of self-image issues among teens stem from social media. It can cause them to doubt their own life and self-worth. 

Many people might not know if these issues apply to them. There are a few ways to help determine if you might be struggling with phone addiction.

If you check your phone for notifications when your phone didn’t ring or vibrate could mean that you are addicted. Another warning sign of addiction is if you turn to your phone when you’re feeling sad or anxious. These things show that you are relying on your phone and it is likely that you are overly attached to it. 

If you do feel like you are addicted to your phone, it’s not entirely your fault. Phones have many elements that make you drawn to them without even realizing it. One thing that makes phones so addicting is notifications. When you get a notification, it makes you feel important and recognized. The bright colors and sounds draw your attention and make you want to open your phone. 

A great way to help you reduce your smartphone addiction is by turning off notifications or turning on grayscale. In your phone settings, you can change your phone from bright vibrant colors to all gray. This will cause the visual appeal of your phone to be decreased and will likely lower your desire to be on your phone. 

Another simple solution to lowering your phone addiction is to limit your screen time.

“I think setting screen time limits is huge, particularly with games and social media. I do that with my phone. Figure out an amount of time that you feel is OK to be on your phone, set that time limit and when the limit is up, put down the phone and go interact with family or friends, find a new hobby, or get some exercise,” said Thurgood. 

Most phones will allow you to set screen time each day for specific apps. After spending the time you have set for yourself, a notification will appear telling you to leave the app. It is important to hold yourself accountable when doing this by getting off the app and your phone. If you can stay disciplined with your screen time, you will notice a huge change in your inclination to go on your phone. 

Lowering your screen time will genuinely change you. It will give you back years of your life and it will make you so much happier and healthier. Even if you lower your screen time by only an hour a day, you will notice a difference in your daily life. 

Phone addiction is very hard to fight against, but combating it will make you stronger. I encourage you to keep an eye on the amount of time you spend on your phone and make a conscious effort to reduce it!