THE MEGAPHONE

Editorial: The reality behind the screen

Megaphone Staff

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Parents and older generations alike most likely remember the days when technology was not at the centerpiece of our culture and their lives. They probably recall the moments as young kids, going outside to play a sport or play with kids in the neighborhood, instead of sitting inside to enjoy the comfort of an electronic device.

Some adults have even chastised kids for their constant interaction with technology, but the truth in the matter is we have all been sucked into this age of technology.

We now live in a world where almost every day is filled with phone screens, televisions, computers and other electronic devices. It seems impossible to distance oneself from the text alerts, news updates and gaming apps that cloud the lives of 21th century Americans, especially if you are a teenager. 

Pew Research Center wrote in an article last May: “Smartphone ownership has become a nearly ubiquitous element of teen life: 9 percent of teens now report they have a smartphone or access to one.”

While the internet is a very beneficial system that, when used correctly, can lead to a more productive lifestyle, it is important to note that technology is not as innocent as we make it out to be.

As more and more kids have more and more access to technology, the rise in social media usage has been prevalent for the teenage generation. The BBC noted in an article that people are spending “an average of two hours every day sharing, liking, tweeting and updating on these platforms.” 

With all of the excitement centered around social media, it is important to understand the effects that these platforms have on the youth.

Many kids report feeling anxious about social media due to the constant need to update one’s followers and stay connected to those across the platform. The BBC further noted in the article that “researchers have looked at general anxiety provoked by social media, characterised by feelings of restlessness and worry, and trouble sleeping and concentrating.”

Kids have also reported feeling depressed due to social media. They may begin comparing their lives to others’ and end up envying the life of a person who has, for example, more followers or more likes on a photo. 

Teenagers have so much on their plates these days with college applications, grades and social events that social media usually is just another addition to their mountain of stress.

Another issue stemming from the rise in social media usage is the amount of sleep teenagers get. Many kids, bogged down by loads of homework or perhaps bogged down just as much by their own addiction to social media, like to turn to technology at the end of their day as a release. The BBC wrote that “research has found that this can inhibit the body’s production of the hormone melatonin, which facilitates sleep – and blue light, which is emitted by smartphone and laptop screens, is said to be the worst culprit.”

Although the technology may seem harmless to look at for a certain period of time, it has the ability to stimulate your mind right before you want to doze off. Teenagers looking at social media right before they attempt to fall asleep may have a harder time actually falling asleep causing a restless night.

Researchers usually also like to note the addiction behind social media that can be seen in teenagers. The constant checking of the phone to the necessity of having one’s phone right at their side has proved degrading to the mental health of many kids. Teenagers have become so locked in on the technology that it can lead to neglect of other relationships, including with family and friends. 

With all of its downsides, technology can still be effective in some areas whether it be within schools, businesses or households, but it is vital to remember that technology is not something that needs to be lived and breathed.

We must remember to keep up honest relationships and be moderate with our interactions with social media. Limit yourself to how much time you spend on the internet and be conscious about your decisions online.

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