Digital Downsides

Looking at the negative impacts of technology on the lives of teens today

By Gillian McMahon

For students growing up in the digital age, a life without technology seems unimaginable. Technology plays a pivotal role in the everyday lives of millennials, even tugging on the leash of older generations who have been forced to adapt to the advances today’s kids have grown up with.
Despite its great impact on society, technology does have negative downsides that are affecting the development of children and teenagers.
The commonly argued upside to technology and social media is that it allows people to connect with one another. However, this can also be seen as a means of replacing old-fashioned human interaction. When kids are constantly plugged into phones, they are effectively being closed off from the outside  world.
According to psychologist Dr. Nancy Randall from East Lyme Psychological Associates, although technology allows teens to always feel connected with their friends, it can “result in isolation, as people devote more time to online activities rather than in-person social relationships.”
In addition, many teenagers who use a variety of social media platforms feel the social pressures of getting the most likes, comments, favorites, and retweets. A 2017 study by The Associated Press-NORC- Center for Public Affairs Research at the University of Chicago found that 76 percent of American teenagers ages 13-17 use Instagram.
Teens feel other social pressures when using social media like “FOMO” or the “fear of missing out.”
“FOMO can lead to anxiety and feelings of rejection or depression,” said Dr. Randall.
In an app such as Instagram where users build profiles, it is easy for teens to create false impressions of themselves and others.
Unfortunately, technology and social media have become a new medium for bullying. In a Viking Saga Survey Monkey poll conducted on Jan. 13, 30 percent of 55 total ELHS students have experienced  cyberbullying.
According to StopBullying.gov, the most common occurrences of cyberbullying happen over social media and text message. Such access to technology allows for instant communication between great bodies of teens, where cyberbullying can occur in the push of a button.
“Teens today are always connected, whether through social media, texting, or streaming music or videos,” said Dr.  Randall.
Technology does not just affect kids psychologically but it also can have physical effects. Many children have heard the parental warnings regarding the harmful “blue light” which affects the sleep hormone melatonin.
As reported by Sleep.org, 72 percent of children ages 6 to 17 have at least one device in their room at nighttime. This means that more kids are not getting enough sleep when they are surrounded by the distractions of  technology.
According to Michele Murphy, ELHS Computer Science teacher, other negative aspects of technology include constant distractions and multitasking.
There is no doubt that technology has become an integral part of life in 2018. While there may be downsides, like all things in life, moderation is key.

 

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