Teens and Smart Phones: Cutting the (Phone) Cord


Worried about the amount of time your child spends on their smart phone? Read how one local mom helped reclaim family time and bring calm to her teen’s hectic life by taking the cell phone away. Family Psychologist John Rosemond presented two parenting talks April 4 and 5 at Renown Regional Medical Center, including a discussion on teens and cell phones.

Wendy Damonte, vice president of advocacy and community partnership at Renown

Kids and smart phones—it’s a hot topic, to be sure, with emerging research that the devices may be addicting. Wendy Damonte, mother of two and vice president of advocacy and community partnership at Renown, says cell phone addiction for kids is real, especially when it comes to teens.

She and her husband were frustrated with the amount of time their 13 and 11-year-old kids were spending on their phones. Then she read a series of columns by family psychologist John Rosemond in the Reno-Gazette Journal recommending that parents take smart phones away from teens.

“Both of my children were addicted to their cell phones, and my husband and I kept saying we need to take them away,” Damonte says. “But as parents that are busy and working full-time, the cell phone becomes a part of the family life and it takes a lot of energy to take it away.”

So she and her husband, Darrin, made the decision to take away the smart phones. The most dramatic response came from their teen daughter, Eva.

“Rosemond said, ‘You’re going to take the phone away, they will go through withdrawals, and then on the back end they’re going to thank you for it,’” Damonte says. “And word for word, that’s what happened.”

On the first day, her daughter broke down crying on the way to school. “The first three days were the worst three days we’ve ever had with her. She would say, ‘Why don’t you love me, you’re ruining my life, and how could you do this to me?’ “I kept saying, ‘I love you, and it’s the right thing to do even though you can’t see it now.’”

And after four days, her daughter said thank you, and that she’s actually happier without her phone.

“Her brain is calmer; she has one less thing to do,” Damonte says. “She’s a busy kid and now she has one less thing on her plate. The cell phone takes up so much of her time without much ROI—she’s just not getting that much out of it.”

Now, a month later, Damonte reports things are “going really well.” They allow their kids to have their phones for one hour a day to keep in touch with friends who don’t attend the same school. “It’s not even a fight anymore,” Damonte says.  

If she has to do it all over again, Damonte says she would only change one thing. “I would have done it sooner,” she says.

Psychologist John Rosemond presented more tips for parenting teens April 4 and 5, sponsored by Renown Children’s Hospital and the Reno Gazette-Journal. Here, he answers reader questions with the Reno Gazette-Journal.