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Is Technology a Concern for Teen Health?

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There was a time when your average teen’s day didn’t consist of much more than school, homework, and hanging with friends. If you think back to your childhood, you can probably remember doing things like riding your bike around the neighborhood with your friends or watching movies to pass the time. However, teens in the digital age spend their time much differently.

Today, you can find most teens stuck on a mobile phone, tablet, or any other gadget that grabs their attention. In fact, Pew Research Center discovered that 95% of teens can access a smartphone, which is a 22% increase from 2014-2015. Another 45% of teenagers say that they're online almost constantly. Further, 8-to-10-year olds are likely to spend up to 8 hours per day viewing a variety of electronic media. What implications might this near-constant technology use have on the physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing of tweens and teens?

Benefits of Technology

It is fair to say that technology can be beneficial for teenagers in the 21st century. It gives them access to a range of content that can be used for personal development or to expand their knowledge, after all. Some specific benefits of technology include:

It Can Be Educational
If you look at a modern classroom, you'll likely find tablets, desktops, or even laptops. Technology can be a useful tool for aiding the learning process and making it more engaging. An example of this is the use of tablets like Google's Chromebook within the classroom, which gives students access to educational software provided by Google. Beyond the classroom, your teenagers can use tablets and phones to research topics of interest and access educational information at home.

Likewise, if they enjoy playing games, it's another excellent tool for learning and development. James Gee, a professor of literacy studies at Arizona State University, explains that games help develop non-cognitive skills such as patience and discipline, which correlate with success. If you find your teen is hooked on a particular game, there's no need to panic as it could be helping them in positive ways.

Expands Cultural Views
Another reason technology can be beneficial to teens is because it could expand their cultural views. Social media gives teens the chance to explore different cultures, places, beliefs, and ideas all from their gadgets. For example, your teen could follow travel bloggers to gain insight into various travel destinations and foods from each location. This kind of exposure can do wonders for their ability to tolerate and even seek out diversity and increase their social awareness.

Stimulates Creativity
Every teen has their own interests and talents, and technology can make exploring them easier. Platforms like YouTube especially make it possible for them to engage with other peers who have similar talents, which could spark further creativity.

According to Statista, as of the third quarter of 2019, 15-25-year-olds accounted for 81% of all US internet users who accessed YouTube. Not only are they watching YouTube content, they are creating it. One such enterprising individual is 14-year-old beauty influencer OkaySage, who, by 2018, had a total of 4.3 million views on YouTube and over 254k subscribers. Social platforms like YouTube have the potential to teach kids to their work, get feedback, and even progress to creating their own platforms. Thus, they're learning core skills like communication, marketing, and collaboration.

Risks of Technology
But is all this exposure to technology too much exposure? Some parents think so. Technology can have adverse effects on the wellbeing and social life of teens. A few concerns worth thinking about include:

Exposure to Inappropriate Content
As a parent, one of your primary concerns when it comes to teens and technology may be the kind of content they see. Research published in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that one in five youths is exposed to unwanted sexual content online. This can happen while they're viewing a website or through an unexpected pop-up. It is difficult to monitor everything your teen is consuming online, considering the breadth of information available; however, you can influence your teen's online activity by having simple conversations about appropriate and inappropriate content.

You can enforce these rules by using parental controls for their online activities and checking what websites they visit. However, be careful not to be too intrusive as a study conducted by University Haifa researchers discovered that if you monitor your kids too closely, they could end up looking for ways to bypass your supervision. Establishing trust is key to fostering wise browsing.

Lower Attention Span
Another downside to teens using technology is that the overconsumption of it can affect their attention span. Apparently, before the emergence of iPhones and iPads, the average person had about a 12-second attention span. Now, the average person can only concentrate for 8 seconds, and the media distractions don't help.

This idea of media distraction could also pose a risk to teens who are on the road, especially if they're texting and driving. The American Automobile Association found vehicle crashes are a leading killer of drivers between 15 and 20, and experts say texting is one the reasons for the prevalence of these accidents. To protect your teenage driver, educate them on the importance of not using technology while driving and concentrating fully on the road and practice what you preach. They will not listen to your advice if you're not following it yourself. If they must employ other technologies like GPS maps to help them while driving, advise that they activate voice directions to help them better concentrate. Also, encourage your teens to make use of smart car technology like Cellcontrol or Drive Safe Mode, apps that block their ability to text while on the go.

Depression

As an adult, you can probably think back to one or two times you saw something on social media that made you feel inadequate. Imagine the impact that it must have on teens considering the rational side of their brains isn't fully developed yet. According to a recent Atlantic feature story, "Eighth-graders who are heavy users of social media increase their risk of depression by 27 percent." That said, many pressures exist online that teens can feel unable to meet. These pressures, real or perceived, can also fuel cyberbullying that National Bullying and Cyberbullying Data says 37% of students surveyed have experienced in their lifetime.

Conclusion
Technology is so ingrained in our lives now that it's almost too late to turn back. If your teens are experiencing issues, try limiting the amount of time your teens spend on their gadgets daily as a means of creating balance. So that you're leading by example, consider an unplugging challenge where everyone has to refrain from using technology. It could be one day a week or every evening during dinner time until the next morning. It's a way of establishing self-control and getting everyone to engage less with gadgets and more with one another. The goal should be to find balance as technology can be a tool that helps them grow or stands as an impediment depending on how it's used.

Posted by Magnolia at January 21, 2020 3:52 PM
Comments
Comment #452864

Use the Width=200 and Height=180 inside your img tag.

Posted by: Weary Willie at January 21, 2020 9:41 PM
Comment #452890

Please modify the article above from:

img alt=”kendra-kamp-26m4HgggTkc-unsplash2.jpg” src=”http://www.watchblog.com/democrats/kendra-kamp-26m4HgggTkc-unsplash2.jpg” width=”1200” height=”800” class=”mt-image-none” style=”“

to this:

img alt=”kendra-kamp-26m4HgggTkc-unsplash2.jpg” src=”http://www.watchblog.com/democrats/kendra-kamp-26m4HgggTkc-unsplash2.jpg” width=”300” height=”200” class=”mt-image-none” style=”“

Posted by: d.a.n at January 22, 2020 8:12 AM
Comment #452911

Leave it to a Democratic to ruin it for the rest of us.

Posted by: Weary Willie at January 23, 2020 10:15 AM
Comment #452913

Nice one, Magnolia, but next time make the picture a little wider please. Thanks for frustrating “the rest” of all one two or three of them. Technology is a concern for all our healths. People of all ages spend too much time staring at screens. So go outside and look at a tree.

Posted by: orteil at January 23, 2020 12:20 PM
Comment #454389

hi,

very useful and motivational article actually to gain the attention of current teen concern and health….good job…!!

Posted by: sandy kumar at March 18, 2020 8:40 AM
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