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Phoneaholic Teenager

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A teenager who treats her (and it is almost Always Female) landline phone or cell phone as if it were the most important thing in the world and is on it constantly. This almost always leads to an insanely high bill. If she uses a cellphone, she may feel more comfortable texting than actually interacting with other people. When she has to babysit kids, she might not care about them. Her preferred place if the phone is wireless or a cell phone is her bedroom, and she will be invariably shown lying prone on her bed, languidly kicking her legs back and forth and/or wriggling her feet while gossiping with some female friend, or maybe her boyfriend. Rarely, she might be doing likewise at a Pay Phone, while The Hero desperately waits to use it.

When put in danger, she might treat Social Media Before Reason. Or she might find out firsthand that Cell Phones Are Useless. In The New '10s, this might include the temptation to take a selfie before even considering to put herself out of danger, or taking a selfie in an inappropriate place (such as at a memorial, or on the edge of a cliff, or in a house of worship), or taking "too many" selfies (and uploading all of them to social media).

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This trope is older than cell phones; it goes back to the proliferation of the home telephone. In the days before cell phones, this often involved a gag about there being only one phone in the house (or two phones on the same line where each extension could listen in on the other). This made it impossible for the poor parents to call while the Bratty Teenage Daughter tied things up. And in The '90s, when the only Internet available to residential homes was 56K dial-up, someone was trying to go on the Internet while she tied up the phone yakking with her friends or playing No, You Hang Up First with her boyfriend. For this reason, some parents would (if they could afford it) get her a dedicated phone line of her own and/or a dedicated phone line for the Internet modem.

As teenagers started moving from landlines to mobile phones for their communication, as well as internet access being replaced from dial up modem to a separate cable or DSL line, the trope mutated into its modern incarnation, where the teenager spends every waking minute of the day texting and talking over their smartphone.

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Classic trait for the Alpha Bitch, Valley Girl, Bratty Teenage Daughter, and other teenage stereotypes. Technologically Blind Elders is the flip side of this trope. Selfie Fiend is a related trope where someone loves taking photos of themself with their phone.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Advertising 
  • This commercial has a young man living with his parents constantly on his phone, with the narration noting that he had to move back home after college and his parents had hoped he'd be motivated to find a job. Subverted in that he is motivated; he's using the Indeed.com app on his phone to look for jobs, and by the end, he has three interviews lined up.
  • There's a commercial in which a family is getting ready to travel to another country on vacation, and the parents are gleeful at the idea of not getting cell service there, meaning their kids might actually have to talk to one another instead of using their phones. While the younger boy asks "Should we?", his sister is visibly disgusted as she says "No".

    Anime & Manga 
  • Salama of Amagi Brilliant Park can't stop using Twitter on her phone and even talks in hashtags. (Not clear on whether she's a teenager, being a fairy and all)
  • Ryuu Zaou from Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE! is a Rare Male Example; whenever he isn't talking to the other characters, he's usually on his phone texting or calling girls.
  • Midori from Space Patrol Luluco is a middle school girl, but still is never seen without her space smartphone in her hands. Justified since she's a gyaru stereotype and because the illegal black hole app she uses is actually a plot point.
  • Downplayed in Tokyo Magnitude 8.0. Throughout episode 1, Mirai is shown constantly glued to her cellphone, where she blogs and texts with friends. However, while outside the next day an earthquake occurs. Her priorities are on things besides her phone for the remainder of the series (though it helps that she can't get a signal).
  • Meru Otonashi from Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei is the trope taken to the extreme - she only ever communicates through ultra-snarky phone messages, being completely antisocial otherwise. And if her phone is taken, no worries; she has dozens.
  • Episode 4 of Massugu ni Ikou revolves around the dogs hating their teenage owners new cellphones. They spend too much time on them and they're too loud for dogs. This results in Mametarou and his friends trying to throw away the cellphones.

    Comic Books 
  • Robin: Tim spends a lot of time on the phone with Stephanie, especially when they're separated. While working with The Flash Wally finds Tim hard to get ahold of without running to Tim's location because Tim's busy using the phone to talk to Steph.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): While it's not a phone Kris Lazarus is glued to his handheld game system, until he ends up mortally wounded. There are plenty of signs he was a pretty nice and considerate kid despite his gaming addiction, but when his grieving father tried to recreate him as an AI the only thing that seems to have made it across is that gaming addiction, which does not mix well with his father's explosively unstable Hard Light AI experiments.

    Fan Works 
  • In chapter 2 of Albus Potter and the Dragonfang Wand of the Albus Potter Series, it is said that James and his girlfriend Denise are like this with their owls.
  • Fates Collide: Oda Nobunaga is constantly on her scroll, even in class. She even looks at her scroll instead of paying attention to her best friend Okita Souji's sword duel with Blake Belladonna, pissing Okita off.
  • Shigeko Kageyama AKA Mob When Mob(gender swapped) gets back on her phone after something traumatic happens, and it does often, Reigen is always reassured that she's still just the same old kid.

    Film — Live Action 
  • Occurs often in Clueless - but only the girls.
  • In Don Jon, the hero's sister, Monica, spends the whole movie silently browsing/texting on her phone, until she finally speaks near the end.
  • A rare male example: Oliver "O-Man" Chamberlain in The World's End. As an adult, he hasn't outgrown this behavior.
  • In Deadpool, Negasonic Teenage Warhead just has to finish a text before she can help in the final battle.
  • Bethany in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. Her Establishing Character Moment is her elaborately staging a 'casual' selfie, she gets detention for talking on her phone while the class is supposed to be taking a quiz, complains that she has got no reception while doing detention, and complains constantly about not having her phone when she is trapped in the game, to the point where Alex asks her if the word 'phone' means something different in the future.
  • The eponymous character's youngest sister Penelope is this in Muriel's Wedding.
  • Flash Thompson is this in Spider-Man: Far From Home, as he's constantly on his phone live-streaming his European vacation to his followers, whom he calls "the Flash-mob".

    Literature 
  • Newspaper columnist D. L. Stewart recounts, via his book Fathers Are People Too, how his teenage daughter was this. It got even worse after he got her a phone of her own when she was fifteen. According to the book, her phone started ringing twenty seconds after it was installed, she ran up to answer it, and wasn't seen again for three months.
  • Played darkly with Kim from ghostgirl. She was a cellphone obsessed teenage girl who died of radiation from her cellphone. This has earned her the "dead name" of "Call Me Kim".
  • A lot of the characters in Simple Complications are regularly using their phones, but Kira's younger sister Aiko really fits this trope as she didn't even bother to look away from it when talking with Kira.
  • Libby in I Saw What You Did. When she and Kit are making prank phone calls, her father doesn't think it all strange that the phone has been engaged for two hours.

    Live-Action TV 
  • On 8 Simple Rules, Bridget Hennessey was this. In an episode in which each member of the Hennessey family had to temporarily give up a bad habit, Bridget's was talking on the phone too much.
  • Zoey from Blackish is the stereotypical teenage daughter who isn't very affectionate towards her family. She's typically seen texting or talking on her cellphone. She is a popular kid at school but doesn't seem to be an Alpha Bitch or Bratty Teenage Daughter.
  • In an episode of The Brady Bunch, Mr. Brady gets fed up with his kids hogging the phone and running up a huge bill, so he has a payphone installed for them to use.
  • Made fun of on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Buffy isn't responding to the Scoobies trying to call her. Giles suggests she might just have her phone unplugged, but Xander responds "It's a statistical impossibility for a teenage girl to unhook her phone."
  • Jeff Winger from Community is rarely seen without his cellphone, texting or using Twitter.
  • Doctor Who: In "Arachnids in the UK", Yaz Khan's younger sister Sonya spends the entirety of her screen time either holding or using her smartphone.
  • Teddy Duncan from Good Luck Charlie. One episode even had her trying to get a job to pay the phone bill when Bob took her phone away for being $90 over the limit.
  • In The Good Place, while certainly not a teenager, Bad Janet's fixation with her phone is clearly meant to evoke this stereotype and is one glaringly negative character trait. She's is always on it and only tears herself away from it when doing something cruel.
  • House of Cards (US) does it early in season 1: some teenage girl crashed her car while texting some sort of joke about the Peachoid, a real-life water tower in Gaffney, South Carolina, and Frank Underwood is being blamed for it because he had a hand in the Peachoid's construction and the structure had often been criticized as a potential distraction for drivers. The girl crashed not because she was distracted by the Peachoid, but because she posted on social media about being distracted by it; however, Frank can't point that out because he'd look like an asshole.
  • In The Haunting Hour episode "A Creature Was Stirring", Becky's father has to take her cell phone away mid-conversation to get her to stop talking.
  • Stella in Jonas. Her attempt to give up texting results in Sanity Slippage (including ending her sentences with "send").
  • In Kim's Convenience, Mrs. Park's daughter Jeanie (who is younger than most of the cast and around protagonist Janet's age ie. about 20 max) makes her debut by texting and looking at her phone non-stop. Her mother and Mrs. Kim have to keep calling out her name to get her attention, to no avail.
  • In Longmire, an heir to a phenomenally wealthy family turns up dead, so Walt takes pains to keep the story away from the press while he solves the case. Cue the family's bratty teenager tweeting the news as soon as he overhears it, and subsequently trying to take a selfie with the sheriff and a man claiming to be the dead guy.
  • In the pilot for No Ordinary Family, Daphne has a notable texting addiction...even when their plane is crashing. (She gets better afterward.)
    Stephanie: Who are you texting now?
    Daphne: God!
  • Raven's Home: Nia and Tess use their smartphones so much that "Girls Just Wanna Have Phones" revolves around the two having a contest to see who can go the longest without theirs.
  • Dalia from Suburgatory is rarely seen without her cell phone, usually slumped over it as she texts.
  • There have been teens addicted to cell phones on episodes of MTV's True Life. in particular is the episode "I's Addicted to Texting", and one of the subjects followed was a woman who was married and had a baby.
  • Stranger Things: Nancy Wheeler is introduced lying on her bed, talking on the phone she has in her room.

    Newspaper Comics 

    Theatre 
  • Bye Bye Birdie has a musical number about teens spending too much time on the phone called "Telephone Hour".
  • I and You: Because Caroline is too sick to leave the house, she's grown to depend on her phone to let her stay connected to things outside her house. It's pointed out that when she actually gets to interact with people in person she uses her phone as a way to keep them at a distance, for instance being more preoccupied with friending Anthony on Facebook than his attempts to actually befriend her.

    Video Games 
  • In Monster Prom, Valerie the shopekeeper is presented like this. She always has her phone in hand, often looking at it rather than at the player when they visit her shop. She'll look up from it if she has something to say, but she's also only managing the store to buy a new phone.
  • Neptune from We Know the Devil is often looking at her phone while she's stuck at the awful summer camp.
  • If Rabbid Peach from Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is not cozying up to Mario, she's taking selfies on her phone.
  • It's actually a game mechanic in Yandere Simulator. Certain students have the 'Phone Addict' persona, which in terms of gameplay means that they use their phones enough to think to snap a photo of you if they catch you murdering someone, and then send it to the police or upload it to social media, thus giving the police rock-hard proof that you're a murderer. You get arrested, Game Over. Current Phone Addicts are the Bullies (Musume Ronshaku, Kokoro Momoiro, Kashiko Murasaki, Hoshiko Mizudori, and Hana Daidaiyama), Midori Gurin, Pippi Osu, and Ryuto Ippongo. It has also been implied that upcoming student Gema Taku will be a phone addict.
  • The mobile game Marvel Strike Force (surely an ironic place to find this) reimagines Kamala Khan into one. Her win pose is taking a selfie with her team. When she makes the kill blow on an enemy, she quickly takes a selfie with them before sending them flying out of the ring. Extending arms sure are useful.

    Web Animation 
  • Skipper from Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse very rarely appears without her smartphone.
  • In Helluva Boss, Loona is more busy with her cellphone than properly attending the meeting in the pilot. While her age is unknown, she looks like a teenager and Moxxie mentions that Blitzo treats her like one.
  • The Most Popular Girls in School: Mrs. Zales is an adult version of this, which negatively impacts her relationship with her family.
  • Johny from Siblings. It shows in the episode "Runesuck".

    Web Comics 
  • The Last Halloween: Shirley is practically glued to her cell phone, and one of the first things monsters do when getting into the world is create social media accounts. It becomes a plot point when it turns out Shirley knows the Phagocyte's son.
    Robert: So. You personally know this fellow we're questing after?
    Shirley: Yeah, we're friends.
    Robert: I was unaware you had other friends.
    Shirley: You really need to learn about the internet, I don't just stand around typing into the void all day. These are actual people I'm talking to.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In Adventure Time, Valley Girl Lumpy Space Princess is constantly gossiping through her mobile phone even though she's homeless and living in a forest, on canned beans.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball: Hot Dog Guy is often seen using his cell phone since Season 4, even at school. In "The Awkwardness", Gumball mocks him typing on his phone.
  • Played with in Animaniacs when Katie Ka-Boom hides in a closet carrying three conversations on a phone with a long, tangled cord for her mother to trace. Later in the same cartoon, a boy from school tries to call Katie while her dad is on the phone, and when her dad takes the call but doesn't catch the boy's name for her, she goes ka-boom.
  • Caprice and her friend Cassandra from The Crumpets. Caprice frequently uses her phone for social media or chatting Cassie.
  • Quinn from Daria is often seeing tying up the house phone line to talk with the Fashion Club. Hilariously, this even applies to a period of time where she was grounded, where you would expect phone privileges to be revoked.
  • Tambry from Gravity Falls is rarely seen not looking at her phone. According to Wendy in one episode, the fact that she was looking up from her phone for extended periods was evidence she was having the best time of her life. She uses it less when she starts dating her friend Robbie.
  • The Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi episode "Number, Please" involved Kaz confiscating Ami's phone because she uses it so frequently that he's saddled with a hella expensive phone bill. While the real Ami and Yumi are adults, their animated counterparts are canonically 16.
  • While the characters on Kaeloo have a Vague Age, Pretty definitely counts as a phoneaholic. Anytime she's not being mean to the rest of the cast or stalking Mr. Cat, she's on her phone.
  • Les Sisters: Wendy, and all of her friends, spend most of their time on their phones, texting each other and watching videos. It's sometimes made a plot point for Marine, Sandrine and/or William to try to get her to do something else.
  • The Loud House:
    • If Lori's not being mean to her younger siblings (especially Lincoln), she's usually calling or texting her boyfriend, Bobby.
    • Inverted with Lily, a baby, who shows signs of growing up to be this. It makes her similar to her oldest sister Lori.
  • Candace Flynn from Phineas and Ferb is often shown on the phone with best friend Stacy. She seems to carry her cellphone everywhere as well.
  • Rugrats:
    • Alisa, Susie Carmichael's older sister, is rarely seen without her cell phone.
    • In the episode, "Petition This" from the spin-off series, All Grown Up!, almost every student is one of these at school. Fed up with this, Kimi decides to start a petition drive to ban the use of cell phones in school. Angelica, however, isn't going to stand for this, and is determined to stop Kimi by fair means or foul.
  • In the episode of The Simpsons where a fortuneteller tells Lisa about her future wedding, teenage Maggie is shown to have her own home phone and always be on it. The joke is, we never hear her voice during the whole episode because Maggie is The Voiceless.
  • Teen Titans Go!: When Starfire is given the power to "talk like an earth teen" she is practically attached to her new smartphone. When she loses this power, she tosses the device away.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures:
    • The short, "I Was a Teenage Bunny-Sitter" (Part of "The Acme Home Shopping Show") opens with Babs chatting on the phone with her friend Harriet, but then she has to leave to babysit and says she'll call back. After meeting the parents there, she makes a sandwich and calls Harriet back, only to hang up when she has to make mashed potatoes for Duncan (the kid she's babysitting). At the end of the cartoon, Babs is sleeping on the couch while Duncan is the one chatting on the phone.
    • In "Take Elmyra Please", Amanda Duff, Elmyra's older sister, is seen talking on the phone with her friend, Stephanie. She has to call her back later when her Mother needs her help calming her baby brother back to sleep when he awakens from his crib and causes a mini-rampage through the living room. During her conversation, she tells Stephanie she's lucky to live in with a family whose parents are always gone and without brothers, sisters, or pets.
  • In the Tom and Jerry shorts "Busy Buddies" and "Tot Watchers", the babysitter left in charge at Tom's house goes straight to the phone right after the husband and wife leave, only leaving the phone to punish Tom for bothering the baby (when in fact he was returning the baby after it wandered off).
  • Kitty from Total Drama Presents: The Ridonculous Race has a habit of regularly taking selfies during the race. She's so obsessed with it that in "Hawaiian Honeyruin" during a game of charades she chooses a camera.
  • We Bare Bears: Panda may or may not be an actual teenager, but he's constantly on his phone blogging, using various day-to-day apps or refreshing dating sites.
  • A tie-in comic of Young Justice uses this as a cover-up, The Team goes to a diner and takes up a booth. Seemingly quietly texting and not socializing (which older diner staff comment on) when they are really using the phones to look over things from a recent mission, and are talking through telepathy.
  • He's not a teenager, but in the South Park episode 'Buddha Box' Cartman claims being left alone with his cellphone is the only remedy for anxiety, so the titular box enables him to isolate entirely from his surroundings with it. Pretty soon half the town uses it, not just kids.


 
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