A new study of today's teenagers, "Generation Z" (born between 1990-2005
), has some important information for parents and teachers especially about technology and social media. The main topics deal with:
The addiction that results from being glued to a smartphone or device creates a passive, numbing, isolating, apathy-inducing state, most often resulting in depression, anxiety, and even suicide. This addiction is detrimental to the growth of a child's mental, social, psychological, and spiritual well being. The family dynamic is disrupted by overindulgence in smartphone interactions. Outside influences become more prominent in the lives of teens than family values, morals, and ethical practices.
- Overuse of smartphones which isolate students from healthy interactions
- Overuse of technology, gaming, video streaming, etc which promotes more of a "slothful" and unempathetic existence
- Consumerism (media, material goods, and gossip) become more prevalent than service to others, creativity, and productivity.
As Katharine Hopson, writing in an article for NPR's Health News, stated, referencing a research study from the University of Pittsburgh: "It turns out that the people who reported spending the most time on social media — more than two hours a day — had twice the odds of perceived social isolation than those who said they spent a half hour per day or less on those sites. And people who visited social media platforms most frequently, 58 visits per week or more, had more than three times the odds of perceived social isolation than those who visited fewer than nine times per week. The study appeared Monday in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine."
WHAT TO DO
Parents and teachers should take seriously the complications that arise when children are not monitored and mentored in the use of today's technology tools. They can be a blessing or a curse, depending on how they are used. Do not assume a teenager automatically has the wisdom to know how to apply their use in a positive and productive manner. Guided, ethical use results from caring and informed adults who set boundaries and help teens avoid obsession with unhealthy media. For the first time in 24 years, suicide rates in teenagers have passed homicide rates and is the leading cause of death for this age group. Authorities contribute isolation and social media as a major factor in this increase.