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Four Step Program for iPhone Addiction in Teens

by Beth (Halo) Hanson 6 months ago in social media
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A Theoretical Design

Four Step Program for Iphone Addictions in Teens

This program outlines how to change iPhone addiction in high school students using Hull's four-step theory. Hull theorized that learning a novel behaviour occurs through four different events; a drive or motivation, cues, response or behaviour, and reinforcement. This program changes iPhone addiction by targeting these four events. The program is designed specifically for high school students who are particularly vulnerable due to peer influence and emerging sense of personal identity. The program aims to help students learn the harms of iPhone addiction and feel confident in their decisions to restrict iPhone use for better mental health.

Mounting evidence suggests that iPhone use correlates with psychopathologies, including depression, anxiety and loneliness (Elhai et al., 2016;2017). Elhai et al., (2016;2017) Discuss pathways of iPhone addiction. Two primary pathways are negative reinforcement, using one's iPhone to escape discomfort and positive reinforcement, seeking pleasure that iPhone use offers.

Addiction may occur when the desire to use one's iPhone becomes a need to avoid psychological distress.

The first week of this program drives and motivates high school students to change their addictive iPhone behaviours. By the end of the first week, students should become aware of their addictive behaviour and want to change. The program has the students notice the adverse effects of their iPhone use. The students will be required to write down the amount of time they spend on their phones each day, using the data provided on their phones by apple. If the students do not have an iPhone, they will install software to monitor their use. They will spend a night without their phones at the end of their 1-week period tracking iPhone/smartphone use, giving it to a friend or trusted family member. They will take note of the symptoms they experience not having access to their iPhones for one evening. The symptoms experienced will be discussed in a class session where an expert discusses the effects of iPhone/smartphone addiction. The students will become aware that their use is an addiction and harmful to their health. Awareness of the negative impact will develop their drive to want to change their behaviour.

To measure progress each week, the students will fill out a self-survey. The self-report will ask how many hours of sleep they are getting each night, their general mood, how they feel about their grades, and how they feel about their relationships. The questionnaire contains questions specifically for high school students from the Smartphone Addiction Proneness Scale (SAPS) (Kim et al., 2014).

The second week of this program will work on the student's iPhone use cues. Most likely, the students will feel the drive to use their phones when bored, stressed, or lonely. By teaching the students healthier coping mechanisms, negative emotions will cue healthy coping rather than iPhone use. The students will work with each other to think about what makes a coping mechanism healthy or harmful. Students will work in groups to develop healthy strategies such as going for a walk, finishing a task that they may be procrastinating, or finding a person to talk to about their feelings. In this second week, along with tracking their time spent using their phones and for what purpose, they will add what emotions they feel before and when they put their phone away. The program will challenge each student to try three healthy coping mechanisms and to journal about their experience. Because of the sound or vibration, their phones make when receiving a notification. The program will encourage the students to remove unimportant apps to their daily functioning and keep the phone silent, including no vibration. Except for important contacts.

After the students have learned to recognize their cues for iPhone use, they are encouraged to begin actively choosing healthier responses to satisfy their drives for negative or positive reinforcement. In the third week, there will be in-class discussions about human needs to feel loved, accepted, noticed, and seen. The discussion will teach students that these feelings are not wrong and that we all feel them. There will be a discussion of ways to satisfy those needs without using cellphone technology and engaging with social media. Students will be encouraged to interact with each other face to face and discuss how they feel. Peer discussion will help the students realize that they are not alone in how they are feeling. This week the students will be asked to note any positive changes they may be noticing from reduced iPhone use. Such as getting better sleep, getting more homework done, or feeling happier.

In the final week of this program, students will gather all of their self surveys and see if they have improved in any of the four areas of sleep, school, relationships and mood. Improvement will reinforce their drive and motivation to continue working towards extinguishing their addictive iPhone behaviours. As a result, new healthy coping behaviours will replace iPhone use when feelings of distress arise. The students will be encouraged to continue monitoring how they feel and how it correlates with cell phone use. For example, the students will know to check their cell phone use habits if grades start to fall or they feel more tired from lack of sleep or have trouble with their mood. The students will also learn that they create a similar program for themselves if there is any other harmful habit in their life they would like to change. The program will be summarized for the students to recognize the harm of behaviour to create the drive to change. Then, determine the cues that drive the behaviour, replace the behaviour with something healthier, and note the positive changes.

The four-step program will support teens to show them directly how iPhone use and addiction negatively impact their wellbeing. The students will learn for themselves by completing surveys and monitoring changes associated with reduced iPhone use. The students will be working together and guided by an expert to share their experiences. Parents and friends will also be involved as the students will need someone to hold their phones for them for one night. This trusted person will be aware of the students' goal to reduce iPhone use and will become a support for them in the future. The students will learn about addiction and how to change behaviour. These skills will carry over in many aspects of their lives if they become addicted to other harmful habits such as vaping, eating or alcohol. The four-step process is helpful on one's own for any harmful habit or addiction.


Apple Is Set to Unveil Software That Helps Cure IPhone Addiction." AirGuide Business 2 June 2019. Business Insights: Essentials. Web. 8 Nov. 2021

Elhai, J. D., Dvorak, R. D., Levine, J. C., & Hall, B. J. (2016;2017;). Problematic smartphone use: A conceptual overview and systematic review of relations with anxiety and depression psychopathology. Journal of Affective Disorders, 207, 251-259.

Kim, D., Lee, Y., Lee, J., Nam, J. K., & Chung, Y. (2014). Development of korean smartphone addiction proneness scale for youth. PloS One, 9(5), e97920-e97920.

Olson, M. H., Favero, D., Hergenhahn, B.R. (2019). An Introduction to the Theories of Personality. Pearson.

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About the author

Beth (Halo) Hanson

Visonary painter, Realist writer

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