05/16/2012 01:20 pm ET Updated Jul 15, 2012

Cell Phones, Teenagers and Anxious Attachment

I've been keeping track of this trend lately -- very close track. Watch a group of teens hanging out together and more times than not they will be:

A. On their best behavior
B. Dressed alike
C. Flirting
D. On their cell phones

Yep, the answer is D. Now, my question is why are they on their cell phones if they could be talking to one another in person. I mean they are together, physically and in the moment, right?
Perhaps they are trying to show that they are in demand, trying to avoid intimacy with the peers that they are with, or maybe they are simply addicted to their cell phones the way an addict gets addicted to drugs or sex.

I just don't understand this entirely. I did, however, have a thought about this topic during this past weekend. My cell phone was broken and I was very anxious until it was repaired. I was practically ready to kiss the stranger in the store who fixed it. And, I am not talking about mild anxiety here. I am referring to the level of anxiety that makes you feel like you are alone,disconnected and sinking into quicksand. Anything could happen, I told myself, and I would be excluded. By the end of the weekend I would be rejected by all of my social circles. And, so went my thoughts...

Now, take these kinds of thoughts and apply them to teens who are exquisitely aware of feelings of connection and rejection. They are clearly anxiously attached to their cell phones and now I get it. A missed call, a text that doesn't arrive or even losing the phone briefly can lead to mild disorientation or even a full-blown panic attack.

We are raising a cohort of teens whose cell phones have replaced their favorite blankets or stuffed animals.

Can you be a good enough parent? Probably not. Can you be a good enough teen? Unlikely. Can a smartphone be a good enough source of comfort? It seems that the answer is YES.