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Home » Smartphones: It’s Time to Confront Our Global Addiction: Dr. Justin Romano (Transcript)

Smartphones: It’s Time to Confront Our Global Addiction: Dr. Justin Romano (Transcript)

Here is the full text and summary of Dr. Justin Romano’s talk titled “Smartphones: It’s Time to Confront Our Global Addiction” at TEDxOmaha conference.

Listen to the audio version here:


Let’s start with a dirty word, shall we? Pandemic. As we transition out of the last pandemic, we’re entering a new pandemic of addiction that might be the most pervasive addiction in human history. Scary part is the world has yet to even acknowledge that this addiction exists, despite it being all around us and fueling our current mental health crisis.

But today, we turn the tide on this new addiction. What if I were to tell you that in 2007, a new addictive drug came out and it took the world by storm. In less than 15 years, over half of the world’s population was using this drug daily. It was causing a rise in depression, anxiety, and suicide in all age ranges, but especially in young girls.

And it was accounting for 3,000 traffic deaths per year in the United States from impaired driving. If this were happening, wouldn’t there be an outrage? Wouldn’t the government and society as a whole be trying to fix this? Wouldn’t we be drafting class action lawsuits and demanding justice?

Well, check your pockets, because I’m guessing you have this drug on you right now, and it’s your smartphone. When you think about addiction, what comes to mind? Substances like drugs and alcohol, maybe sex, gambling. You think about computer code, apps, algorithms?

As a child and adolescent psychiatry fellow, I am here to advocate for my patients, who are mostly kids aged five to 19, who I’m seeing become addicted to their phones en masse. And the purpose of this talk is to shift your perception of addiction, because we must start viewing smartphones, technology, and social media in the context of addiction if we want to reverse our current mental health crisis.

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