An Ottawa father is so worried about his daughter's cell phone addiction; he won't let her get a driver's license. Pierre Menard says he is concerned she will be distracted and dangerous and she agrees. 19-year-old Chantal Menard is your typical teenager. Her phone is part of her body. 

Unlike many teenagers, though, she realizes it's a problem and a growing issue for an Ottawa psychologist.

Chantel Menard's cellphone is never out of her hand, whether she's drying her hair in the morning, making a sandwich at lunch or going to sleep at night.

“I can’t really put my phone down,” she says.

She admits it has become an addiction, affecting her sleep, her focus and her communication skills, even conversations with people in the same room.

“I’ll text him a question,” she says of her father, sitting beside her on the couch, watching television, “and he'll be right beside me and it's just crazy!”

"We’re in the same room,” Pierre Menard, Chantel's father says, “talk to me, use your voice, that's what it's for.”

Pierre Menard is so worried about the cellphone addiction; he doesn't want Chantel getting her drivers' license.

“If her phone went off, she would look for it or get distracted by it. It takes that split second.”

And his wise daughter sees his point.

“I am easily distracted and I would find it dangerous right now.”

Psychologist Dr. Eva Fisher sees an increasing number of patients withdrawing from others and into their cellphones. She says true addictions involve a risk to your safety or the safety of others, like the mother who just had to answer a text.

"I actually witnessed that,” says Dr. Fisher, “where a mother pushing a baby in a carriage let go of carriage in order to look at her phone and it slid down hill and carriage toppled over. That's an addiction.”

Dr. Fisher says there are several risks involved to an addiction to smartphones, including insomnia, anxiety, depression, even a risk to your livelihood.

“Reviews that are poorer and poorer because you are neglecting work because of checking your smartphone incessantly and in spite of that, you still can't stop.”

Dr. Fisher says another impact is social isolation.  You can witness that any trip you take to a restaurant or a shopping centre where people are absorbed in their cellphones, completely oblivious to anyone with them.

“Maybe we’re texting each other,” laughs one young 18-year-old woman at the Rideau Centre Food Court, sitting with 3 other friends, all concentrating on their phones.

“Are you addicted?” asks the reporter.

“Yeah. Well, um, yeah,” says another woman.

Of course, it’s not just a young person's addiction but Dr. Fisher says teens and adolescents are the most frequent users. She says part of the solution is recognizing there is a problem. 

“If we have a realization that this pervasive use of smartphones is harming our family and our personal lives,” says Dr. Fisher, “we will have to find ways to eliminate the smartphones from certain areas of our lives.”

So, back to Chantel, she is making tiny steps, putting the phone down while doing chores, but still a few steps away from driving.

And one final irony, there are actually apps you can use to help you police your cell phone use like “BreakFree."