Are you addicted?
1. The first thing I reach for
after waking in the morning is
2. I sleep with my smartphone
next to me in bed.
3. I often use my smartphone
when I am bored.
4. I have pretended to take
calls to avoid awkward
5. I find myself spending
more and more time on my
6. I spend more time than I
should on my smartphone.
7. I become agitated or irritable when my smartphone is
out of sight.
8. I have gone into a panic
when I thought I lost my
9. I have argued with my
spouse, friends or family
about my cellphone use.
10. I use my smartphone
11. I have tried to curb my
smartphone use, but the effort
didn’t last very long.
12. I need to reduce my
smartphone use, but I am
afraid I can’t do it.
According to Cosette
Rae, of ReSTART (see above),
answering “yes” to eight or
more statements makes you
a candidate for a phone intervention.—ADP
they’re going to be drawn to being on
their phone a lot,” says Costco member
Cosette Rae, CEO and founding member
of reSTART, a Seattle-area internet
addiction center (see “Tech treatment”
sidebar). “It’s a very addictive medium.
They’re not going to have the ability that
an adult might to control their use. You
have to be a courageous parent to set
healthy boundaries for your child.”
Changes in behavior
“Normal” smartphone use becomes
problematic use when a child begins
withdrawing from family or outside
activities, isn’t sleeping, fails to complete
schoolwork or prefers spending time on
their phone to socializing. Becoming
angry or inconsolable when separated
from their phone is another signal a
child may be hooked on the device.
“Is the child able to modify their
behavior quickly, or does the behavior
only modify when the phone or device is
back in their hand?” asks school consultant Ana Homayoun, author of Social
Media Wellness (Corwin, 2017; not
available at Costco). The Costco member
notes that digital overuse can prevent
children from developing critical social
and emotional skills because they spend
too much time communicating through
Responsible and moderate use
Katie Davis believes teens must be
taught to use their phones “responsibly
and in moderation.” An assistant profes-
sor at the University of Washington
Information School, she provides a few
tips for taming a smartphone habit:
• Limit push notifications, switch the
screen to grayscale and remove social
media apps from the home screen.
• Establish household etiquette
around cellphone use, including smart-
phone-free zones (bedrooms) and times
(meals, restaurants, family gatherings).
• Download and set up a screen-time
• Create family rewards for putting
your phone “to bed” nightly or reducing
• Enable “Do Not Disturb While
Driving” features or use apps that discourage distracted driving.
• Identify new activities for spending
time away from your phone.
“Problematic use is when the internet gets in the way of your other activities and starts to negatively impact your
life,” Davis, a Costco member, points out.
While parents often cast a critical eye
at their children’s phone use, they should
examine the example they are setting.
“Most adults are spending hours a
day on their phones,” says Price. “The
first thing to do is to look in the mirror.”
Andrea Downing Peck is a freelance writer
from Bainbridge Island, Washington.
ReSTART Life ( restartlife.com)
is the nation’s first residential
treatment center for internet,
video game and social media
addiction. When the Seattle-area facility opened its doors
nine years ago, services
focused on young adults—
typically college-age students—
whose tech habits spiraled out
of control once free from parental oversight. Now, parents of
8-year-olds are inquiring about
admission, prompting reSTART
to add a second campus
ReSTART works with individuals and families to help them
understand the underlying
issues (e.g., depression,
anxiety, relationship issues,
trauma) that may be causing
problematic digital technology
use while guiding clients to
rebuild a healthy and balanced