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Negative Effects of Screen Time on Youth

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Negative Effects of Screen Time on Youth Essay

It seems strange to think that there was once a world that was unoccupied by technology. Older generations recall spending time entertaining themselves with projects, crafts, and hanging out with friends. Now, it appears that these times have become a thing of the past. Kids ages 0-18 have changed drastically in response to today’s modern world. The use of phones and digital media has decreased face-to-face contact, and it has made this generation more interested in than their artificial world than what is going on now. Exposure to all things digital has replaced the things that make us human. In the book Fahrenheit 451, written by Ray Bradbury, he writes of a technological futuristic world where everyone is “tuned” in to a screen and has no time for much else. This is already happening, across the world, teens, and young children are becoming increasingly addicted to their screens. Information flows to them at a high paced rate, they don’t have time to process this information and it is changing the way their brains develop. Although technology has benefited humanity, it is having detrimental effects on today’s youth. Youth should use technology in moderation and it should not be introduced to children at a young age.

Some teens and young children spend three to nine hours playing games or checking social media. You may be wondering what else do these kids do? Technology usage has turned into something similar to addiction, kids these days can’t seem to focus on much else. They would rather stay inside all day and stay on their phones. Staying inside more due to screen usage and not getting proper exercise is damaging to children and teens health and development. This obsession and addiction is comparable to drug usage, everything else that should be important and focused on in life becomes boring and unimportant. According to the news source “The Economist.” it states in it’s article published in early January of 2018, that research is pointing to teens social media habits as a reason for putting them at risk for suicide and depression. Even parents are starting to hear this wake-up call. A 2011 study, “Teens, Kindness and Cruelty on Social Network Sites,” explored parents’ attitudes and concerns about phone’s effects. “Parents responding to the survey noted that the internet and mobile devices help kids make connections to information, and friends and family, and allow children to become more independent. On the negative side, parents said it exposes kids to inappropriate content, can provide a platform for poor online behavior, and takes time away from important face-to-face interactions”. There are benefits to screen time, but the opposing effects will leave a much deeper mark and impact than the positive’s. “School surveys by the OECD, a club of mostly rich countries, suggest that 15-year-olds find it harder to make friends. In America–though, phone-bashers should note, not in the rich world as a whole – suicides of young people are up” (The Economist). This is a shocking piece of information, young children and teen’s are living in a great time, full of opportunity and hope, but technology is rearing its ugly head. Teens are more unhappy and anxious than in generations past. Screen’s are to blame. Britain and America have conducted several studies and have found that there is a connection between excessive technology usage and unhappiness says “The Economist.” Technology and excessive screen time has proven to have negative implications on young children and teen’s well being, social life and health.

Smartphones have become a part of regular life, you can’t walk outside in large cities without seeing a person staring at their small screen. Phones have a very addictive quality to them, but that isn’t the only downside to them. Introducing technology to young children and constant usage by kids and teens effects their thinking ability and motor skills. The effects of screen time don’t hurt or change the brain in negative ways in adults. Youth should be censored because of these harmful effects. Canadian researchers studied 4,520 questionnaires from U.S children age 8-11 based on lifestyle. The subjects also took cognition tests. At the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute in Ottawa Canada, have discovered the optimal time of screen exposure, exercise and sleep time. They suggest limiting screen time to two hours a day, getting 9 to 11 hours of sleep and spending an hour of exercise. “More than a third – 1,655 children – met the guideline for limiting screen time, and their average performance in the cognitive tests was 4.5 per cent higher than that of the 1,330 children who met none of the guidelines. The gain was even higher, at 5.2 percent, for those meeting both the screen-time and sleep recommendations (Coghlan).” Limiting screen time is essential to children’s success in school. Extended time on digital media reduces cognitive ability. Digital media is essentially making this young generation into zombies.

CBS 60 minutes episode discusses interesting discoveries on technologies effects on all ages of youth. The results are surprising and the documentary shows the negative and threatening impacts on society. The study was started by the Federal Government through the National Institute of Health to research adolescent brain development with exposure to technology. Twenty-one sites across the country are participating in this study and they are keeping track of 11,000 9 and 10 year olds brains for a decade as they are exposed to digital media. The study has cost 300 million dollars to fund. As these kids brains were being scanned by an MRI machine, researchers discovered premature thinning of the cortex. The cortex is the part of the brain where it processes information form the five senses. Who knows what problems may come up for these children. Screen time is damaging to young children’s brains. Seattle Children’s Hospital has discovered that when babies are playing on Ipad’s, they don’t transfer what they learn to the real world, it is slowing and inhibiting their development. A child who spends hours on the digital will be severely disadvantaged to a child who is limited from technological devices. Teenagers have also had their minds warped form their little pocket screens. Phone usage among teens has changed how teens communicate with one another. Communication is becoming less personal and distant. No wonder this generation struggles with making friends!

Technology has been a blessing in some respects, especially the invention of the world spread IPhone. It allows long distance communication, gives you directions, can answer any question and much more. The creators only looked at the beneficial aspects of the IPhone, but this single technological invention has brought forth havoc on youth. Although, a portion of youth has found technology as a life saver, something that has opened new doors for people and helped them start over. Author Marlon Parker has experienced life changing things in correlation with teens “addiction” to technology. He says that teens overuse of technology is only connecting them more, especially teens who are disadvantaged. Parker explains that teens can reach out for help online, and there are several apps that help teens get jobs and get more connected to their communities. The advantages only stand out when screen time is limited. The downside to this is that teens and youth cannot contain themselves from overusing technology. Screen time is highly addictive. Sandi Schwartz, editor specializing in parenting, wellness, environmental issues, and human behavior has found a that when teens and young children use technology, they are receiving a huge dopamine boost. This feel good chemical is also released when harmful drugs are taken. Schwartz references Eric Elliott, who has been featured in several New York Times articles and has been a psychologist for 20 years, says he is more concerned about technology than drug use. This is a very serious issue that everyone needs to be aware of so we can save and pass on our knowledge of the effects of technology to our youth. Technological benefits for youth are miniscule and the new generations should learn how to interact with the real world, not go to technology for help when everything they need is right in front of them and in the real world.

Screen time has impacted teen and youth well being and social life, ability to think and process information, and has proven similar if not the same as drug usage. It is time for adults to realize that screen time is harmful. Young children should be censored from it and teens should cut back on it. If everyone in the world took a digital vacation, there would be great changes, people would come together and truly appreciate those around them. Which world will we choose to live in? The impersonal and shallow, or the more meaningful and in depth one? 

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Negative Effects Of Screen Time On Youth. (2021, December 16). GradesFixer. Retrieved January 28, 2023, from
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