Teen Electronic Addiction

Electronics have become an unavoidable part of everyday life. Teenagers have more access to technology and electronics than ever before. While technology can be a useful tool that makes life easier, there can be a darker side.

Addiction to electronics and technology has become a recent subject of research. As new technology becomes available, teenagers have more access to various electronic devices. Teenagers today have more access to technology than teens did ten years ago.

The COVID-19 pandemic also had an impact on teen electronic use. During the pandemic, teens had limited in-person interactions. As a result, many teens spent their free time using electronics and technology.

For some teenagers, electronic usage can become an addiction. Teenagers who become addicted to electronics may begin to see a negative impact of using these devices. Adolescence is an important time for brain development. Electronics can serve as a distraction for teens, potentially hindering their development.

Through understanding the types and signs of behavioral addictions, loved ones can determine if treatment is necessary for their teenager. Teens and young adults may be reluctant to put down electronics. With the right support, they can start making better choices for brain development.

Electronics Addiction Self-Test

This is an online screening and not a diagnostic tool. Only a trained medical professional can help determine the best treatment for you.

Rates of Teen Electronics Usage

Electronic usage among teens is very common. In recent years, experts have seen use trending upward. It is clear that teenage technology use is not slowing down anytime soon.

The COVID-19 pandemic prompted teens to use electronic devices for their schooling and for leisure. Excessive screen time during this time became common. Adolescents and young adults spent more time online than they may have in the past.

Not much data is available about teen electronic use during the COVID-19 pandemic specifically. However, data shows that approximately 88% of teens say they have access to a computer at home. Approximately 95% of teens claim they have access to a smartphone1.

It is apparent that most teens have electronics readily available. Some teenagers do face limitations on access to technology due to finances. However, overall teens have access to some electronics whether at home or school.

Studies from 2018 show that 45% of teens use the internet almost constantly. Approximately 44% of teens surveyed report that they visit the internet several times a day1.

The rise in technology use has contributed to development issues. Behavioral development seems to be affected the most among teens. However, mental and physical health can also be negatively impacted by technology use. Young people can be particularly vulnerable to the effects of electronic addiction2.

Risks of Electronics Addiction for Teens

There are a few risks commonly associated with the overuse of electronic devices in young people. There is a correlation between the use of technology and depression among teenagers. Teenagers with high rates of internet usage were also likely to experience depression. Social media, in particular harms mental health.

In regards to development, screen time can cause an impact from an early age. Teenagers are in a peak time for development. Excessive technology use can interfere with emotional and behavioral development.

Risk factors for electronic addiction can include2:

  • Decrease in physical activity
  • Unhealthy sleeping patterns
  • Poor nutrition
  • Headaches
  • Neck pain
  • Engaging in other addictive behaviors

Decrease in Physical Activity

Teenagers who spend excessive time using electronics are more likely to engage in less physical activity. Generally, electronic addiction promotes a sedentary lifestyle. Most electronic devices are not meant for physical activity. However, some electronic products are meant for physical activities.

Decreasing physical activity is tied to a variety of health conditions2. Physical activity benefits both mental and physical health and is essential for well-being. While physical activity is necessary at any age, it is incredibly beneficial for youth.

Poor Sleep

Screen time and the overuse of electronic devices are linked to poor sleeping. The stimulation created by these devices can make it difficult for the brain to wind down. Sleep patterns can be impacted in a few different ways. Mainly by lack of sleep or reversing sleep and wake hours.

Changes in sleep can make it difficult for teens to focus. Additionally, other health problems can stem from poor sleep habits.

Poor Nutrition

Nutrition is an essential part of a well-rounded lifestyle. What a person eats impacts many areas of wellness and mental health.

Teens who are addicted to technology may not make time to nourish themselves. As a result, they may suffer the impact. Poor nutrition can lead to many health problems. What teens eat can impact development and physical health.

Headache & Neck Pain

Teenagers who are electronic addicts may also suffer from headaches and neck pain due to prolonged use. These aches and pains can cause complications in everyday life. When teens look at a screen for an extended period of time, their eyes may strain. Over time, it is possible to develop regular headaches or migraines.

Additionally, viewing a digital screen for long periods of time can result in neck pain. Teenagers with an addiction to electronics may experience neck pain from strained muscles. The physical effects of this addiction can be long-lasting. When left unaddressed neck and muscular problems may worsen over time.

Leading to Other Addictions

Electronic addiction in teens may not seem like a big deal for some. However, the addiction response in the brain can have a negative impact. Teenagers who are electronic addicts may become addicted to increasingly risky behaviors.

Technology addiction can lead to behaviors such as gambling addiction or gaming addiction. The constant use of electronic devices opens up more opportunities for teens to engage in harmful online behaviors. Many parents worry that their children’s online screen time will result in these behaviors.

Substance abuse can also be linked to electronic addiction. The decline in mental health some teens will experience may create an environment for substance abuse or misuse. Technology addiction and substance abuse often go hand in hand3.

Types of Electronics or Technology Addiction

Electronic and technology addiction can involve many different mediums. As technology continues to expand, teens have more choices in what products they consume.

Electronics or technology addictions can include4:

  • Video games
  • Pornography
  • Social media
  • Online gambling
  • Texting
  • Online auctions
  • Watching television or streaming services

Like any addiction, electronic addiction can range from mild to severe. It is always important to be mindful of what types of technology teenagers are consuming. It is equally important to pay attention to how often they are consuming technology. Some teens may need parental restrictions on their technology consumption.

Signs of Electronics Addiction

Since technology plays such a large role in most people’s everyday lives it may be hard to identify electronic addiction. There is not always a clear line between using technology recreationally and being addicted. There are a few indicators that may determine if a teen is addicted to technology.

Signs of electronic addiction can include4:

  • Sudden changes in mood
  • More intense focus on the internet or digital media
  • Need more screen time to be happy or improve mood
  • Show withdrawal symptoms when not using the internet or technology
  • Continue using electronics even if it negatively affects their relationships or responsibilities
  • Neglecting social, work, or school life

Addiction to electronics can lead to other health problems. Excessive screen time can also cause mental health disorders such as depression or anxiety.

Some professionals believe that excessive screen time is an unhealthy method of coping for people with mental health disorders. There may be some disagreement about the exact cause and effect. However, it is evident that technology addiction and certain disorders are related.

What Role do Parents Play?

Parents who have noticed that their teenager is spending more time than usual consuming technology, have a role to play. As mentioned previously, it is essential for parents to monitor their child’s technology usage. Parents can empower their teenager to use the internet and various forms of technology responsibility.

If a parent has noticed their teen’s screen time seems to be substantial, there may be a problem. Parents who are concerned about their child’s patterns of electronic use, should consult a mental health professional.

Treatment for Electronic Addiction

The first step to helping with an electronic addiction is to stop using the device or reduce use. There is no specified course of treatment for electronic addiction, although therapeutic methods can be helpful.

Therapeutic modalities that may help electronic addiction include5:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): kind of psychotherapy (talk therapy), that is based on the idea that thoughts, behaviors, and emotions are all connected and can be changed.
  • Motivational Interviewing (MI): designed to help with giving up addictive behaviors and learn new skills using techniques like open-ended questions, reflective listening, and affirmation
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT): mindful psychotherapy designed to help with staying in the present moment and accept thoughts and feelings without judgment
  • Reality Therapy (RT): encouraging the commitment to change behaviors to improve quality of life and self-esteem

Get Help with Teen Electronic Addiction

Electronic and technology addiction has steadily increased due to readily available access. More and more teens are struggling to get away from screens and this addiction can begin to affect mental health. 

If you or a loved one are struggling with electronic addiction, reach out to Enhance Health Group today. Our team can answer any questions you may have and give you a better understanding of our mental health program. 


  1. Anderson, M. and Jiang,J. (May 2018). Teens, social media and technology 2018. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2018/05/31/teens-social-media-technology-2018/
  2. World Health Organization. (n.d.). Excessive screen use and gaming considerations during #COVID19. Retrieved from http://www.emro.who.int/mnh/news/considerations-for-young-people-on-excessive-screen-use-during-covid19.html
  3. PsychGuides.com. (n.d.). Computer/internet addiction symptoms, causes and effects. Retrieved from https://www.psychguides.com/behavioral-disorders/computer-internet-addiction/
  4. Tyler, M. (March 2017). What does it mean to have a technology or video game addiction?. Healthline. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/addiction/gaming-and-technology
  5. Cash, H., Rae, C. D., Steel, A. H., & Winkler, A. (2012, November). Internet addiction: A brief summary of research and Practice. Current psychiatry reviews. Retrieved May 25, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3480687/