Effectsof technologies on teens
Therapid growth of social media and technological gadgets such as smartphones as well as other digital gadgets has transformed children’slife both at home and in school. Even the youngest children aremoving online, downloading apps, and using smart phones and tablets.According to consumer reports 2011, despite the required age to opena Facebook account being at 13 years, over 7.5million children inAmerica aged below 13 years had opened Facebook account Clinton &Steyer par. 2). Subsequently, it is not clear how all this technologyand media use will affect children as they grow into adults (Clinton& Steyer par. 2).
Notall technology is harmful. When used correctly, teenagers andchildren can gain from the advantages associated with technology(Verial par. 6). Older children can improve on their creativity bydeveloping their talents in modeling, imagination by either use ofsoftware to make an image or by getting inspiration to come up withsomething by watching a television program. Computer games canbenefit a child intellectually for instance by developing skills tosolve problems. Children may also be encouraged to read afterwatching a movie based on a particular book (Raising Children N.P).On the other hand, teenagers can benefit from learning values bywatching good role models portrayed in the media, develop skills inreading and critical thinking through use of blogs, develop socialskills by connecting with people from different parts of the world onsocial networking sites, and also become politically and sociallyinformed by watching documentaries and current affairs (Raisingchildren N.P). Additionally, teenagers who have weaker social skills,like those with autism may in most cases benefit by using internetand other forms of technology such as smart phones as an alternativeto direct communication. Adolescents can also access informationonline regarding their health problems without necessarily disclosingtheir identities. There are websites which offer excellent healthresources on a wide range of topics such as signs and symptoms ofdifferent illnesses like sexually transmitted infections (O’Keeffeand Pearson, par. 7) Teenagers with chronic health conditions arealso able to develop supportive networks with people who suffersimilar conditions online. If supervised, children and teens canbenefit from technology while at the same time keeping away fromnegativity that comes with it.
However,while technology is useful, it can at the same time bring about a lotof negative effects on the lives of teenagers (Verial par. 1).Therefore, if you are a parent with technophile child or children,you ought to be aware of the possible dangers they are exposed to.Possible dangers may include cyber bullying, effects to health,addiction to technology, as well as problems with communication.
Overthe past years the number of children who are overweight and obesehas gone up thanks to prevalence of use of technology that hasencouraged sedentary lifestyles (Cespedes par. 1). Teenagers use mostof their time playing video games, watching television and searchinginformation in the internet. As much as technology providesentertainment and convenience, it is also hindering active play andphysical movement of the children. Approximately15 % of children agedbetween 6 -19 years are overweight with twice as much makingchildhood obesity an epidemic in the society (Cespedes par. 2). Apartfrom eating highly processed foods, children’s active play has beensubstituted by technology. Children ride remote-controlled carsinstead of pedal bikes, teens operate joystick in place of baseballbat and sitting in front of television has become an alternative toactively playing outdoors.
Thereis also a relationship between technology addiction and occurrence ofmental health conditions such as anxiety disorder and depression.About 76% of those going for treatment as a result of technologyaddiction tested positive on a depression diagnosis and 24% testedpositive on a diagnosis of anxiety disorder (Verial par. 3). Themore a child is exposed to technology, the higher the chances that heor she will fall into emotions or behaviors that can result intoother mental health conditions. For example, the more time a childspends playing video games, the less time he or she has to formmeaningful social and relationship skills. This may cause a child tohave no social life or friends hence feelings of not being acceptedby people around which can cause anxiety or depression.
Nodoubt that technology is a source of fun, which can amazingly causebig problem of addiction (Verial par. 5). The release of hormoneknown as dopamine by children when they engage in particulartechnology like video games is addictive. The way children respondmentally to technology addiction is the same way a substance addictresponds. The dopamine brings about good feelings to a child duringfun-filled technology sessions. Initially, these good feelings beginas an addiction and then lead into an addictive behavior, whichinclude an abrupt urge to use a digital gadget at unsuitable times,for instance during family gatherings or class time.
Mostparents are greatly concerned about how the development of theirchildren will be affected after they have been exposed to. Preschoolchildren learn cognitive and social skills very fast and no parentwould want this process to be obstructed by hours of sitting playingvideo games. However, adolescence is similarly a crucial periodcharacterized by rapid development and not many people are keen onhow the use of technology is affecting teenagers. Actually, expertsare concerned that the use of social media and massive texting hasbecome a central part in teen’s life hence interfering with theirself-esteem and encouraging anxiety (Ehmke par. 1)
Thereis no doubt that technology has made children miss out on veryimportant social skills. To some extent, online communication andtext messages disables nonverbal context whereby facial expression,body language and even the slightest forms of vocal response are notvisible (Ehmke par. 3). Consequently this hinders clearcommunication. In addition, making friends is very key when growingup, and forming friendships involves certain levels of risk-taking.Forming friendships is one thing, but also keeping such friendshipsgoing is another thing. When problems arise between friends, whetherbig or small, it takes a great deal of courage for the two friends tobe honest with their feelings. Learning how to successfully tacklethese problems is very important as it makes the friendship exciting,full of fun and to some extent intimidating. Knowing how to air youropinions even at times when it feels emotionally unsafe or when youdo not agree with other people is part and puzzle of healthyself-esteem (Ehmke par. 4). However, when children conduct theirfriendships either online or through text messages, they are strippedof some of their most personal characteristics of communication. Itis easier to take control when you are texting since you cannot hearor see how your words are affecting the other person. The morecommunication is downloaded to indirect means, the more childrenbecome anxious about talking which is the primary form ofcommunication. Consequently, this makes social negotiations to becomeriskier for children as they grow older and start getting intoemployment sectors and passionate relationships.
Itis evident that the other immense danger resulting from indirectcommunication by teenagers is the ease by which cruelty can prevail.Teenagers send text messages containing all sorts of things that aperson would never consider to say if they were having a face-to-faceform of communication (Ehmke par.7) Teenagers can text approximately3,400 times in a month. The truth is, in the modern day, by the timechildren reach middle school they are already spending a greater partof their time using media more than they are spending with theirteachers or parents. The challenges posed by these acts areimmeasurable including rise in cyber bullying, hypersexualization,and regrets in future by young people about what they may have postedonline regarding themselves (Clinton & Steyer par. 3). Cyberbullying can easily happen because of the impersonal nature of emailsand text messages which makes it difficult to identify the sender.Cyber bullying can happen anywhere including at school and homeenvironment, and at any time of the day. Long-term, severe, orrecurrent cyber bullying puts the victim at a higher risk fordepression, anxiety and other forms of psychological stress. In rarecases, some victims of cyber bullying have opted to commit suicide.According to experts, victims of bullying and bullies themselves arelikely to have suicidal thoughts, attempt it, and even completesuicides.
Inorder for positive outcomes of technology to happen, there is a needto face up to challenges that are widespread in the digital society.To ensure that children and teenagers receive safety and optimalhealth they deserve, there is a need to have in place legislations,norms and educational efforts to match the modern day realities tocapitalize on opportunities and reduce the dangers for them.
Cespedes,Andrea. Obesity in Children & Technology. 16/08/13. Web.12/12/14. Livestrong.<http://www.livestrong.com/article/46320-obesity-children-technology/>
Clinton,Chelsea & Steyer James. Is the Internet hurting children?21/05/12. Web. 12/12.14. CNN.<http://edition.cnn.com/2012/05/21/opinion/clinton-steyer-internet-kids/>
Ehmke,Rachel. Teens and Social Media: Experts says kids are growing withmore anxiety and less self esteem. Web. 12/12/14. ChildMind Institute.<http://www.childmind.org/en/posts/articles/2013-11-26-self-esteem-and-anxiety-digital-age>
O`Keeffe,Gwenn Schurgin & Clarke-Pearson, Kathleen. Clinical Report—TheImpact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents, and Families. 2011. Web. 12/12/14. AmericanAcademy of Pediatrics.http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2011/03/28/peds.2011-0054.abstract
RaisingChildren. Benefits of media for children and teenagers. Web.12/12/14. http://raisingchildren.net.au/articles/media_benefits.html
Verial,Damon. Technology as an Influence on Teens. DemandMedia.Web. 12/12/14. <http://everydaylife.globalpost.com/technology-influence-teens-15087.html>