Hi everyone, in my last post I talked about how many of the grade 8’s at my school use technology in their everyday life. Before I continue on in further answering my question, I am first going to talk about why people may use technology and how it can affect them, specifically their mental health, school, and sleep.
There is a variety of reasons that people may use technology, but one of the most prevalent is the idea of it being cool. Many teenagers find that “all [their] friends have it” and they have to have a phone in order to be “cool.” It also provides a way to stay connected to the world, and their friends. They may feel as though if they don’t have a phone or some of the things that a phone allows you to have (social media) they may miss out on something important, interesting or that they want to be a part of. Another reason that teenagers may want a phone is to avoid awkward situations. Whether it is just being able to pull your phone out when you are uncomfortable and pretend to have to do something, or to avoid in person conversations and have them over text instead. (1)
Technology can also have an impact on learning. Many students find that devices, especially phones are very distracting in class. Even if there is only one phone out it makes others seem disengaged, which can cause everyone else in the room to disengage. Overstimulation of the brain can also cause poor performance. Furthermore, there is a strong correlation between confidence, grades and afterschool activities and around 40% of kids have no afterschool activities, which can cause them to rely on technology for entertainment. (1)
Technology has also been proven to affect mental health. Internet addiction is also called Internet compulsion and is not associated with the same physical symptoms that a drug or alcohol addiction is, but people can still develop a psychological dependence on technology. This kind of technology use has been linked to a variety of mental health problems including low self-esteem, depression, and loneliness. A study done recently that looked at 13-17 year old’s Internet use suggests that depression and compulsive Internet use are related. Spending too much time on the Internet can lead to emotional problems such as depression, which in turn can cause an increase in Internet use (7). On the contrary according to Madeleine J. George (the leader of a study about the how technology can impact the mental health of at-risk adolescents), teenagers who spent more time on technology had less severe depression and anxiety symptoms. Her study also found that high technology usage is associated with problems with attention, behaviour and self-regulation and that at-risk adolescents experience higher ADHD symptoms and conduct problems on days where they use more technology, then on days they use less (5).
One of the main areas where I feel that technology impacts my life is with my sleep. Technology, and specifically screens can have a huge impact on the length and quality of sleep you get. The artificial blue light given off by a screen activates neurons and disrupts the circadian rhythms and the ability to produce melatonin, which is a sleep-inducing hormone (3,6). It makes you feel less tired and reduces the quality of sleep you get (3). Other factors, such as having your phone turned on in the room when you try to sleep can also negatively impact your rest. When you phone makes noises at night it can wake you up, and make you feel as though you need to check it. Turning on a phone at night can be as big as a distracter as noise is, as the light that emits from a screen signals to your brain that it is time to wake up (4). Having more screen time, sleeping near a small screen, and sleeping with a TV in the room are associated with shorted durations of sleep and 75% of children ages 6-17 have at least one electronic device in their bedroom (4,2). This sleep deprivation disrupts emotional regulation in teenagers and can cause them to engage in risky behaviors such as substance abuse due to their impulse control being compromised. It has also been associated with depression.
For my next couple of posts, I will be reviewing the results that I received from both of my surveys. If you have not already, it would be great if you could complete my survey titled “How does knowing the impact of technology affect how you use it?”
Thanks for reading.