St. Petersburg, Florida - Doctors say teens who are addicted to texting are triggering the same area of the brain as heroin addicts.
"I think it's just like a drug. Once you get hooked on it, you cannot go [back]," said one teen. "It's like whenever I open my eyes, the first thing I look at is my phone."
Eighty percent of American kids own a cell phone.
The average teen sends 3,000 texts a month, or 100 a day.
"It clearly fits the definition of an addiction," said Dr. Gary Small.
Neuroimaging studies have shown teens who text light up the same area of the brain as an addict who uses heroin.
"In the very primitive part of the brain, the dopamine system gets triggered. That's the general reward system in the brain," Dr. Small said.
In fact, chronic texters actually feel bad when they don't get a text.
And the hook comes with a cost that goes beyond the phone bill.
Experts say teenage brains haven't fully developed the area that processes consequences and regulates impulses, which can be a problem especially while driving and texting.
You can join 10 News for the Great Hang Up, an effort to encourage teens to stop using their cell phones while driving. On our website, download a pledge card and find a link to the Facebook page.
Janie Porter, 10 News