What Your Kids Don't Want You to Know: Phone Addiction?

ABC News' T.J. Holmes talks to a woman who is worried about the amount of time her 15-year-old son spends on his smartphone.
5:50 | 05/27/16

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Transcript for What Your Kids Don't Want You to Know: Phone Addiction?
on to what your kids don't want you to know. This morning the problem is so many families are facing kids getting too attached to their phones. One doctor even warning it could cross the line over into addiction. T.j. Holmes has more. Some of you fighting these battles yet? Every day. Every day. With these cell phones. Some parents throw their hands up. Some shake their heads and some think it's Normal. Let me tell you this, how much is too much is the question you have but doctors will actually tell you there gets a point it goes beyond Normal teenage behavior with these cell phones and your child starts to display characteristics of a drug addict. Now, this interview here is going to take about 30 minutes. Okay. Are you going to be able to make it 30 minutes without looking at your phone. I'll try. You sure you're all right. I can do it. Reporter: Jason loves his smartphone. He is a 15-year-old, no surprise there. So attached to it his family worries he might one day need therapy to get it under control. You've been on how much. Four hours. Four hours and it's just 3:00 in the afternoon. Reporter: We asked Jason to put an app on his phone to track his phone use. What was yesterday? Yesterday, six hours. Six hours. His mom Tamika says there are days it's been eight, even 12 hours. At home, at school. The library. The library with books, right? That makes me feel bad. Reporter: Between social media, music, texting and gaming, the hours add up and mom says she thinks his phone use has crossed the line. When you're talking about addiction you're talking about I can't live without it. Reporter: You think he's dependent on that phone. I know he is. Reporter: Cell phone addiction isn't officially designated as a clinical disorder like drug or alcohol addiction but Dr. Edward specter thinks it should be. He treats exclusively people for what he calls compulsive use of technology. Their brains change in similar ways to real chemical addicts. That sounds nuts. If you talk to the parents of my clients, they come in and they say my kid is like a junkie and feel like it's an addiction. Reporter: When does it go from being Normal acceptable teenage behavior to a problem? Spector says don't know cuss on just the hour. When we talk about compulsion, it's not the behavior but whether you have control over it. Reporter: Clark worries it's affecting other parts of his life. As his smartphone use has gone up grades have gone down and noticed changes in his behavior. Do you think he could be on the path at some point it's not enough to just take the phone from him, that you might have to get him some help? When somebody freaks out, because you're taking something that they have an emotional attachment to, it is an addiction. Jason says there's nothing abnormal about his phone use and doesn't believe it has a major impact on other parts of his life though he does admit he could probably tan to cut back. Later. Now, I'm about to end this interview. What's the first thing you're going to do? Check my phone. All right. Let's talk about this with T.J. And Caroline Knorr at common sense media. Welcome, Caroline. We can't pretend the kids are the only ones addicted but let's talk about the kind of signs you should be looking for to figure out if your child did too dependent. At common sense media we say you know your kid best. But you know, there are some typical signs of, you know, a bigger problem, depression, slipping grades, hostility, kids who are highly sensitive, a strong preoccupation with their phone and not interested in the activities that they used to love. They only care about the phone. Meantime, T.J., so many of these apps are designed to hook them. They suck them in and you feel like you have this obligation, like he -- joking around with him there, he couldn't stand to be in that interview almost for 30 minutes without like something -- I'm missing something in life over here. Engo, you talk about you know your child. Not just the hours, some can do it with three, some with eight. Eight hours on the phone what else are they missing in life and how many opportunities walking by them to have Normal everyday interaction. Not just the hours but how much are they missing by looking down at that phone. You bring up a great point. These apps are designed to add a gaming element to texting and being social with your friends. They do. You talk about these vamping selfies. These are kids staying up late at night taking a picture of their sleep deprived faces and posting for their friends to see. It's not true addiction but problematic behavior. The minute a parent sees that time to put the phone in another room late at night. I suggest they have them charge the phone in the parents' bedroom at night. What else should parents do? It's really important for parents to set up screen-free times and screen-free Zones and that needs to apply to parents as well as kids. Really limit multitasking because we think we're good at multitasking but kids really, you know, it takes a moment to refocus, so try and get them to focus on one task at a time. No phones in the bedroom at night. No texting and driving for parents. And we always say, you are your kids' digital role model. Show them how to have healthy digital habits now that we're all on our phones. The doctor was big on that point. How many types do you say give me one second setting that example early on. Okay. Parents know best and parents have to show the way, thank you, guys.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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