Teenagers are growing up in a much different world than their parents did back in the 1970s and ’80s.
A prominent aspect of this generation gap is the widespread usage of modern-day technology. The internet, social media, and cellphones each play a significant role in a teenager’s life on a daily basis. Though it is convenient, relying on technology for numerous day-to-day obligations has its pros and cons.
Habitually using a smartphone and spending large amounts of time on the internet can be linked to mental health disorders such as anxiety or depression, according to the website, "Our Everyday Life."
Clinical coordinator Shannon Chrismore at Illinois Addiction Recovery found that 76 percent of those seeking treatment for technology addiction were also diagnosed with depression, and 24 percent were diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. The website explains that the more time spent playing online games equals less time developing essential relationship or social skills, thus resulting in a lack of friends, which can lead to depression.
Simple conversational skills are lacking among today’s youth, due to an inability to develop social skills and emotional reactions.
A study from UCLA showed that sixth-graders who went five days without glancing at a digital screen were significantly better at reading human emotions than sixth-graders from the same school who spent hours each day on their electronic devices.
Gary Small, a neuroscientist and author of "iBrain: Surviving the Technological Alteration of the Modern Mind," told Huffington Post that young people aren’t learning nonverbal cues (long pauses, eye contact) while using these devices.
Academic abilities are also suffering at the hands of technology. It can cause a distraction for children, since texting or watching television while completing homework loses their ability to focus, according to the website Scik IT S.
Sleep can be affected by excessive technology use, according to uKnowKids.com. The article states that the stress hormone cortisol is stimulated throughout the day as media devices are used, which limits production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Sore back and neck muscles can also be attributed, depending on posture and positioning. Experts recommend avoiding digital screens for two hours before bedtime.
Certainly, technology has positive effects, as well.
Technology in classrooms has been proven to raise overall scores of students. In a study from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in California, students using iPads experienced a 20 percent increase in their math test scores in one year compared to those using traditional textbooks.
As released by PBS LearningMedia, pre-K-12 teachers were surveyed nationally to provide information on how they are utilizing technology. Three-quarters of them linked it to a growing list of benefits, explains pbs.org, while 74 percent responded by claiming it has motivated students to learn and enabled them to reinforce and expand on content.
another article from "Our Everyday Life," keeping in touch with old friends, accessing vital information for schoolwork, and applying for jobs and colleges have been made extremely efficient. People researching medical conditions and gathering data for natural disasters can benefit immensely from modern-day technology, as well.
Many start to wonder, what are the long-term effects of technology?
A survey from Huffington Post (taken by 1,021 technology insides, critics, and students) showed that 55 percent agreed with a statement that claimed in 2020 the brains of young people will be "wired" differently from those 35 and up, with a good ability to find answers quickly and without shortcomings. The remaining 42 percent agreed with a statement that claimed in 2020 young technology users will be easily distracted, constantly need instant gratification, and will lack deep thinking skills.
Technology in our society has both positive and negative impacts. If used in moderation, it can be a very beneficial tool.
Brianna Propis is a sophomore at St. Mary’s High School.