Putting the Cell Phone to Bed

One of my 15 year old clients began to see that his behavior with is cell phone was all consuming and addictive.  In his words,     
      "I used to text all the time, including when trying to sleep, during meals, homework, and classes.  I had to sneak because if I got caught, I'd lose my phone. I sent hundreds (maybe even thousands) of texts a day. It absorbed my time and attention. I could even text in my pants pocket, without ever pulling the phone out and looking at it. 

      I'm a pretty normal teenager and would say my skills and habits are not unusual.  Many kids text all day, (and night).  It made me feel connected with others, even when home alone.  It gave me a feeling of self-worth, knowing that people would text me back.  If I didn't have a phone or couldn't text, I felt isolated and very alone. My phone would pull my attention from everything else. I had sleeping problems and couldn't hardly ever put my phone down.   
     Emotionally, I relied on others texting me back or I started to feel unwanted. My therapist suggested I try some things which actually helped! Here are the strategies I tried:  


1-  Have a stop & start time for texting.

I now turn my phone ON about 6:45 a.m. (45 minutes after waking up), and turn it OFF at 9:00 p.m. (an hour before going to bed). 


2- Move phone charger out of the bedroom.
This was hard, but I noticed how much harder it was to get to sleep with my phone in my room. Now it's a relief when I turn it off and leave it.    

3- Turn phone off at school.
except during lunch. It helps me stay focused and motivated during classes. It also reduced my stress in school, worrying about getting caught. 


4- There is one other time I turn my phone off.
When I feel really angry or upset I turn it off so I don't spread my anger to others or say something I'll regret.  


     Now school, homework & hobbies are all easier to focus on without the pressure to check my phone constantly.  I don't need people to text me right away to feel wanted.  I realized although I felt connected by texting, I wasn't really connected anyway.    
     I don't let people intrude on my time anytime they text anymore. If feels really good to have that freedom.  I'm surprised at how well this worked and that I feel much happier."  



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