Best Practice

Adolescent smartphone addiction: Supporting pupils and parents

Our students cannot be without their mobile phones. But at what point does this become an addiction and how should schools respond? Andrew Jones considers mobile phone ‘overuse’
Image: Adobe Stock




Just before the summer holidays, I received a message asking me to call a parent who had some concerns about her son. I had no idea what this was about, but suspected it related to a sanction he had been given the day before.

Instead, however, it was a plea from the parent for advice, even help, on how to get her son off his phone at home, especially at night. This is not the first time a parent has discussed this issue with me. It is also a battle I have had with my own son.


Mobile phone ‘overuse’

My pupils’ parents are right to be worried. Mobile phone overuse has been linked to cognitive-emotion regulation, impulsivity, impaired cognitive function, excessive introvertness and low self-esteem (Wacks & Weinstein, 2021). Aside from the psychological issues, the physiological problems of excessive phone use can lead to sleep deprivation, reduced fitness, unhealthy eating, migraines and reduced cognitive control.

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