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Almost Half of U.S. Teens Say They’re Addicted to Their Phones

The Guardian has just published a deep dive into the issue of phone addiction by award-winning journalist, Simar Bajaj. He starts with the case of Ananya Jain who became addicted to TikTok before breaking free of her dependency. Jain is a founder of the mental health support site, FullCircle Technologies.

Then The Guardian breaks out some amazing statistics into excessive smartphone use:

  • 25% of people worldwide have “smartphone addiction”
  • More recent studies since 2020 show 35% with “smartphone addiction”
  • 52% of 15-17-year-olds in the U.S. are online “almost constantly”
  • 95% of U.S. teenagers use YouTube, followed by TikTok at 67%
  • 97% of U.S. teens use the internet daily
  • 60% of U.S. teenagers use Instagram and Snapchat, and 32% use Facebook
  • 35% of U.S. teens say they use one or more of these five apps “almost constantly”

Bajaj explores the pros and cons of labeling excessive phone use as an addiction. We have covered this issue on AddictionNews before. It’s hard to argue with brain scans that show compulsive phone users have “accelerated thinning in parts of their brains responsible for decision-making and social awareness.”

A fascinating longitudinal study from Cambridge University in London is providing a deeper perspective on teenage smartphone use. The study has been following 18,000 children in the United Kingdom since their birth in either 2000 or 2001. The researchers recently reported that:

48% of 7,022 people surveyed agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, “I think I am addicted to social media.”

The difficulties associated with smartphone addiction are not frivolous. Excessive phone use can impact physical health, mental health, social engagement, and professional advancement as much as any substance use disorder. Phone addiction disrupts sleep, increases anxiety, and leads to social isolation. Maybe it’s time to stop asking whether smartphone addiction is real and instead focus research on curbing it?

Written by Steve O’Keefe. First published January 8, 2024.


“Everyone Is On Their Phones But Is It Really Phone Addiction We’re Experiencing,” The Guardian, January 3, 2024.

“Teens, Social Media and Technology 2022,” Pew Research Center, August 2022.

“Global prevalence of digital addiction in general population: A systematic review and meta-analysis,” Clinical Psychology Review, January 2022.

“Almost half of teens feel addicted to social media: University of Cambridge,” Daily Sabbah, January 4, 2024.

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