The Problems and Solutions for ADHD and Cell Phone Use in Teens

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Many parents might have concerns about ADHD and cell phone use in teens. Cell phones and electronic use in general might worry many parents. For instance, how much use would be considered too much? Or, parents might wonder if their teens with ADHD are being too distracted or too consumed by their cell phones.

In reality, we probably all use our phones too much and in the wrong places. That’s why we have to have laws about texting and driving. We have laws because all of us struggle to put down our phones and disconnect for even a few minutes.

For our still developing teens, though, do cell phones pose a greater risk? Texting and driving matters for everyone, but teens especially have a problem with it. The issues with ADHD and cell phone use in teens, though, expand beyond the driver’s seat. For instance, can the cell phone have a negative impact on grades and overall development? Do cell phones help make your teen more irritable? Do they make it harder for your children to sleep?

ADHD and cell phone use in teens matters because it potentially can impact a lot of areas of your teen’s life. In this article, we want to look further into ways cell phone use can have an effect on teenagers in particular. Knowing then what effect cell phones might have, we also want to discuss ways parents can help dissuade or limit their use.

ADHD and Cell Phone Use in Teens: The Problems

Cell phones can provide a number of benefits especially for the relationship between parents and teens. You can use them to talk to your student whenever they have an issue. Additionally, they can provide a quick avenue to check in and check up on where your teenager is and what they may be up to.

In spite of these benefits, though, cell phone use also comes with some drawbacks. Let’s look closer at what some of these major problem areas might be for ADHD and cell phone use in teens.


The first and biggest issue that comes to mind with ADHD and cell phone use in teens is simply the added distraction. Teens with ADHD have enough difficulty focusing without the added help of technology. The cell phones we have today do so many things. We hardly even use them to talk at all. After all, we are too busy surfing the Internet or playing with apps to actually talk to someone else.

Most parents and teachers have a hard enough time trying to get the attention of teens without cell phones. Add in cell phones and your teen might struggle to focus all the more. When considering when and how to get your teen a cell phone, you need to consider their ability to handle distractions already. Can they focus and complete tasks in a reasonable amount of time? Do they get distracted while doing simple tasks? Will a cell phone make that worse or better?

After considering where your teen might be at with distractions already, you’ll want to think of specific ways to limit distractions when they get a cell phone. You’ll need to put rules in place to help limit cell phone use. Working with your teen and their specific personality, you can almost certainly find a solution that works for your family.

Screen Time

We all know that cell phones aren’t what they used to be. Somewhat ironically, we probably spend more time looking at our phones than actually talking on them. From texting to updating Facebook to playing games, most of us spend a considerable amount of time looking down at our phones. This means we have a considerable amount of screen time just with our cell phones.

With all the screens in our lives with TVs and tablets and cell phones, recent science has shown a number of issues with the over exposure. Too much screen time especially at night can disrupt our sleep routine and cause insomnia. Furthermore, screens can decrease our ability to focus, which is particularly problematic for people with ADHD. Additionally, evidence points to screens even affecting our ability to process emotions and communicate effectively.

All of these things should point to problems with ADHD and cell phone use in teens. Teens, more than anyone, tend to look at their phones constantly. For teens with ADHD who might already have issues with focus, sleep, and communication, the additional screen time just adds to the issues. When considering how much your child should use a cell phone, you need to consider these factors as well.

Use While Driving

We have already covered distractions, but we need to talk specifically about cell phone use while driving. Teens serve as the main culprit for accidents caused by texting while driving. For teens with ADHD, they don’t need anything to tempt them from keeping their eyes on the road. When considering ADHD and cell phone use in teens then, you have to consider the distractions caused while driving.

Cell phones can provide benefits, but for teens just learning responsibility and how to drive, they can also provide unnecessary complications. For parents, you absolutely must consider how cell phone use impacts your teen’s driving. Parents can’t always be present with their teens. Teens with ADHD will get distracted. How can you help limit that distraction? How can you eliminate the influence of cell phone use from the driving environment?

This might not seem like an easy complication to unravel. Teens drive cars. Teens use cell phones constantly. With this being such a big issue, though, parents must absolutely work with their teens to find some kind of manageable solution to the problem. In the next section, we’ll look at possible solutions to this issue as well as others.

ADHD and Cell Phone Use in Teens: The Solutions

We probably all understand the problems associated with ADHD and cell phone use in teens. Do we, though, know some of the best solutions for addressing those issues? For parents with teens with ADHD, what can you do when it comes to their cell phone usage?

To start with, most parents should accept the fact that their teens will get a cell phone at some point. While cell phones have some benefits, you need to watch how your teen uses them to make sure they don’t become a distraction. The tips below can help you better keep track of ADHD and cell phone use in teens.

Use a Cell Phone Contract

The first step for finding solutions to ADHD and cell phones use in teens means setting down some ground rules. Teens hate few things more than rules and limits. Unfortunately, for parents, setting boundaries for your kids happens to be your number one job.

In reality, we all need boundaries and limits. Teens with ADHD need limits more than most. Limits and routine provide needed structure, which in turn helps to provide focus and organization in life.

In short then, to fight against the distraction of cell phone use, you need to provide rules and limits for when and how your teen should use their cell phone. Having a cell phone is a privilege, not a right, and you need to make sure your teen understands privileges come with responsibilities.

Before you ever go to the store to get your child a cell phone, make sure you set down rules first. Things to consider when creating rules should include when they can use their phone. Maybe you want to limit their use in certain places like school or at a job. Maybe you want to limit where they can even take their phone or how many text or phone calls they can use each day.

Take some time to really think through what rules would benefit your teen the most. At a minimum, you need to set limits on using a cell phone in a car and when they really need to pay attention like at school. To formalize these rules, you should have your child sign a cell phone contract, which comes with consequences if they fail to live up to their end of the bargain. To get ideas, you can find some sample contracts at this link.

Monitor Usage

After you have rules in place and possibly a contract, you next need to keep track of how well your child follows the rules. Part of keeping a balance with ADHD and cell phone use in teens requires accountability. While you might trust your teen to follow the rules, accountability can help all of us keep our commitments better.

When your teen first gets a phone, you should let them know that you plan on checking on their usage. Tell them in advance that you intend to ask them how much they use their phone as well as ask others around them. After letting them know, follow up on it. Ask them once a week how much they use their phones and if they have been following the rules.

In addition to asking your teen, you should also ask others in their daily environments. Ask their teachers if your teen uses their phone in class. Ask friends how much they use their phone. Follow up with coaches and mentors and anyone else who might see your teen often and notice how often cell phones become a distraction.

Finally, you can also turn to your cell phone provider to monitor usage. Most cell phone providers allow you to check which phones on your plan use the most data. You should also be able to check how much your teen texts and talks on the phone. Make sure your teen stays in line with the rules you had set in place originally, By consistently monitoring use, you can help limit the distractions caused by ADHD and cell phone use in teens.

Use Apps to Limit Usage

A final way to help manage ADHD and cell phone use in teens involves using apps to limit usage. While you would rather your teens simply followed the rules you set in place, we all should recognize that teens typically don’t always follow limits well. This means that in addition to accountability from monitoring usage, you also need to control and limit use by apps.

Nowadays, we have an option for an app to do almost anything you need done. One of the most vital approaches, though, involves keeping your teen off their phone while in the car. Since distracted driving is such a large problem, many apps exist with different features to help address it. For some ideas on different apps you could use, you can check out the ideas at this link. Consider the features of different apps and pick one that works for your needs before your teen gets behind the wheel.

Beyond use in cars, you can use apps to track web usage and texting and limit all sorts of features on your teen’s phone. A good place to start when evaluating these types of apps would be with the reviews at this link. While no app provides full protection, you can use one or more of these apps to help make managing cell phone usage easier.

Finding an Amicable Solution for everyone when it comes to ADHD and Cell Phone Use in Teens

While parents might be concerned about ADHD and cell phone use in teens, most teens probably don’t give a second thought to it. This means that as the parent, you need to help inform your teens about the dangers cell phones can pose. Not only do you need to inform them of the dangers, you also want to provide solutions to help them with keeping cell phones from becoming a distraction.

Use the problems and solutions discussed in this article to address ADHD and cell phone use in teens in your own home. This outline can provide a framework for your own discussion with your teen. Using this guide, you can find a workable strategy for your household when it comes to limiting the distractions of cell phone use.