Mom’s Smartphone Addiction: The Message It Sends Our Kids


We all know kids and teens are addicted to their phones, but moms are immune to that stuff, right? Turns out, according to this article, you probably use your smartphone a lot more than you think you do. Many moms (including me) have a smartphone addiction. 

smartphone addictionThe article cites a recent study performed at the University of Lincoln that tracked the smartphone use of young adults (ages 17-33, hello young moms!). And, get this: participants spent an average of 5 hours a day using their smartphones.

That’s roughly a third of our waking hours spent on our phones!

Not only do we spend an enormous chunk of our awake time using our phones, we also check our phones repeatedly, an average of about 5 times an hour. And most of these checks are quick bursts of use that clock in under 30 seconds. This type of pattern suggests that phone use is habitual behavior. We are constantly checking our phones without thinking about it or meaning to – yikes!

Thinking about the message this sort of technology addiction sends to our children gave me a huge pit in my stomach. I thought about all of the times ones of my kids has been asking (and asking, and asking, and asking) me for something and I’ve ignored them or kept on saying “just a minute” because I’m “reading an article” or doing something equally “useful” on my phone (Facebook break, anyone?). A lot of times all they wanted me to do was feed them, read to them, play with them. You know, all of the things my mom did with me when I was a kid? Before there were smartphones. Gosh, what DID she do all day? (Kidding!!! Sorry, Mom!)

Naturally, I had to download a phone use tracking app to see how I stacked up.

The first day, I was being really, really good because I knew the app was watching. Sweet, only 15 minutes! But as I got used to the app being there I quickly went back to my normal use pattern. It turns out that I use my smartphone a lot less than the average in the study (typically about 60 to 90 minutes a day). Go me! I get a gold star. But this is still a LOT. 

Let’s say I use my phone for an average of 75 minutes a day. That’s over 456 hours a year.

That means I spend a total of 19 full DAYS A YEAR using my smartphone.

Let that sink in. 19 DAYS.

This experiment was a serious wakeup call for me. When I realized how much I was using my smartphone, I decided that I need to take back control of my life! Then I read this article about parents’ technology addictions being harmful to their children. That was the push I needed to start working on changing my smartphone use patterns for the sake of my kids.

I want to show them that they are more important to me than this tiny electronic box. I’m fighting my smartphone addiction.

So far, I’m cutting back by:

  • Reducing my mindless “time checking” by wearing a watch
  • Turning off the notifications for my addictive apps (sorry not sorry if I missed your event invite…)
  • Leaving the phone plugged in upstairs when I am with my kids
  • Leaving my phone in my purse or pocket when I’m out and about and only taking it out if there is a real, concrete reason that I need to use it (to text the person I’m meeting or answer a phone call, etc.)
  • Limiting how many pictures I take when I’m doing something with the kids.

Now if only I can get my husband on board!

Want to try to kick your smartphone addiction?

The app I downloaded (called Quality-Time) allows you to see how much time you are using your smartphone and how that time is broken down between different apps. This helped me feel a little better because I was able to see how my use was split between what I consider more “necessary” smartphone use like taking phone calls or answering work email (I own a yoga studio so this is a necessary evil) and activities I consider to be more “addictive” behaviors (for me) like Facebook or Instagram.

I challenge you to try the app! If you want to try it, you can set your own criteria for “good” and “bad” apps and see what your own “problem” apps might be. The study found that there is no correlation between how much we think we use our phones and how much we actually use them. So you almost definitely use your phone a lot more than you think!