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The Odyssey

The Student News Site of Westerville North High School

The Odyssey

The Student News Site of Westerville North High School

The Odyssey

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Teenagers today are getting more and more addicted to their devices

The average screen time for teens is on the rise, and something needs to be done about it.
Teenagers today are getting more and more addicted to their devices

Due to frequent problems with students being distracted by their phones during classroom instruction, Westerville North has encouraged its staff to more strictly enforce a policy barring use of devices in class without teacher permission. Despite this, some students are still reluctant to put their phones away or temporarily give them up to teachers in phone pockets or other cases. 

 

Similarly, after the school day ends, students shove their homework and study guides aside in favor of scrolling on social media or hopping on their favorite video games. This situation likely results from the addiction and dependence on technology that many teens face today, and could lead to drops in school performance and general ability to complete simple daily tasks.

 

Mr. Taylor, a teacher at North who enforces his own phone policies, noticed this trend, and therefore has implemented phone pockets. Students are expected to store their phones in these pockets during lessons that he deems to be important.

 

“There’s too much going into these [devices] to make them addictive,” says Mr.Taylor.“I think there should be cell phone lockers as soon as you come into school.” 

 

Phones are certainly addictive. In fact, according to The Common Sense Census by Common Sense Media, the average daily screen time for teens in the U.S. in 2021 was 8 hours and 39 minutes. That’s nearly 2 hours greater than the average 6 years prior. 

 

“[Students] would definitely see a drop in grades if [they’re] spending too much time on [their] phone because [they’re] not getting [their] work done,” says Adam Kauh, a phone-owning student.

 

In addition to distraction from school work, according to Frontiers in Psychiatry, excessive phone usage has also been linked to sleep deficits, anxiety, stress and depression. These mental impacts raise concerns on the possible health problems teens could face in the future. 

 

“I think another huge concern about teen phone addiction, especially when it comes to TikTok, [is that] it’s lowering kids’ attention spans,” says Valerie Celello, a student at Walnut Springs Middle School  who also sees the negative impacts of technology. “They have less patience.”

 

This inability to code switch from play to work in younger teens is likely a result of the COVID quarantine, where class time and free time were spent in the same place. According to a study by the National Institutes of Health, in teens, the cortex, the area of the brain involved in self-control, was shown to be thinner as a result of the pandemic.

 

Not only are there severe mental effects of phone addiction, but, according to Frontiers in Psychiatry, there are also serious physical impacts, including muscle pain, fatigue, eye dryness and irritation, auditory illusions and pain in the thumbs and wrists. This could lead to serious complications in vision and muscle function as teens age.

 

What do parents think about teenage phone use? Most teens would likely believe that the general consensus among parents is that phone usage should be limited, but this is not the case. In actuality, according to a 2023 survey by the Pew Research Center, only about half of parents (47%) say that they limit their teen’s screen time.

 

So, why do parents seem to care less about teenage phone addiction than you might expect? One possible explanation is thatparents are just as hooked on their devices as their children. As a matter of fact, according to the same survey by the Pew Research Center, about half of parents (47%) say that they spend too much time on their phones, and nearly half of teens (46%) say that their parent is at least sometimes distracted by their phone during conversation.

 

What should be done about this phone addiction epidemic? A good start would be for parents to more actively enforce time limits on their teenagers’ phones and make a larger effort to hold themselves to the same standards. Offering to spend quality time with their teen would make it much easier for parents to keep everyone away from the tempting screens. 

 

Westerville City Schools administrators should also encourage their teachers to ensure that all of their students are engaged during class and off of their personal devices while also being reasonable during emergencies or free time.

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