How to know if you are too tied to your cell phone

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“Certainly cell phones are a life-changing part of our society. We'll never be the same. And there's no going back,” said Dr. Jay Joerger, licensed psychologist in Middletown.

Unfortunately, though, societal pressures are forcing children younger and younger into getting cell phones,” says Joerger.

Addiction to cell phone use is a behavioral disorder, meaning that it affects everyday life, like schoolwork, eating habits, and socializing.

How is it possible for cell phone use to become an addiction?

The brain reacts to ringing and text message alerts as if they were a drug by “lighting up the pleasure center of the brain” and causing the brain to release dopamine,” said Nelson Hadler, a psychologist in private practice, who has offices in Denville and Sparta, NJ.

In comparing the compulsive disorder to eating, Hadler said, “An overeater has to learn how to eat responsibly. The same is true with excessive phone use—the user has to learn to use the phone responsibly.”

Are you part of these teen statistics?

1. On a cell phone for more than seven hours a day?

2. One of the 78% who check phones and other mobile devices hourly?

3. One of the 72% with an urgent need to respond to texts immediately?

4. Argue daily with parents over excessive cell phone use, as do 30% of users?

5. Use Snapchat, a Smartphone photo-sharing app, more than 18 times a day?

Do you fit the following criteria for cell phone obsession?

1. Constant use of cell phone, even check for messages when there's no ring or vibration, called “phantom vibration syndrome”

2. Feel anxious when separated from phone or power source

3. Have burning itching eyes, blurred vision, headaches

4. Feel pain in your neck, known as “text neck”

5. Use your cell phone while driving or crossing the street?

What to do if you think you might be addicted to your cell phone:

1. Erase all numbers that are causing you anxiety

2. Shut your phone at the dinner table and when out with friends

3. Always shut it at night—a full night's sleep is important for good mental and physical health

Hadler passes on some tips for parents:

1. Take the phone from the teen at night

2. Have access to the teen's phone—monitor it, if you see anything inappropriate, do something about it

3. Have a plan—be clear to teens what the consequences are for not following your rules for cell phone use

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