A digital epidemic: Teens and technology - DatelineCarolina

A digital epidemic: Teens and technology

Graham Jacobson plays video games with a friend while checking text messages on his phone Graham Jacobson plays video games with a friend while checking text messages on his phone
Skye Jacobson checks out a funny video on Snapchat Skye Jacobson checks out a funny video on Snapchat

By: Allison Parrish

It’s not a secret that today’s teens are spending more time with digital devices than ever before.

A new survey released by the family media adviser group, Common Sense, has revealed that the average teen between the age of 13 and 18 spends about nine hours a day in front of a screen. This is more than most teens spend with their parents or teachers.

Nine hours a day with technology might even be a little low for 15-year-old Graham Jacobson.

“I probably spend at least ninety-five percent of my day doing that stuff,” says Graham, about time spent between his phone, social media, and video games.

His mother, Stacy Jacobson, agrees that nine hours isn’t that shocking.

“He’s on his phone first thing in the morning, and pretty much throughout the day,” says Stacy Jacobson. “XBOX he can only play on weekends, but he pretty much sleeps with his phone.”

Social networking is among one of the top teen uses for digital technology.

“I like social media, because it’s fun to post pictures or Snapchat is particularly entertaining,” says seventeen-year-old Skye Jacobson.

It may be just entertainment to pass time for some, but others believe there is a social issue for the social media obsession.

“I think people are obsessed with it, because it’s like another life. You can kind of show how you wish everything was, without people seeing other sides of you,” says Graham.

The study did not include time teens spend with digital devices in school or during homework. This would add even more screen time for teens, as schools are pushing digital technology.

Lexington School District One has given their students iPads as part of their 21st Century learning system. This teaching model requires that technology be used in the classroom.

"Whether they are going into college or a career they are going to need technology," says District One Enterprise Technology Officer Debra Huggins. "We feel it's essential to have technology in the classroom."  

Huggins explains that some parents do not want their kids to have the iPads, and they will grant their requests, but that for the most part parent reaction is positive.

"The majority of parents are very pleased and very happy, and actually move from other locations to come to Lexington One because they know technology is such a huge emphasis for us," says Huggins.

The impact technology has on our teens is greater than ever. The study concludes that media has a “huge claim on their time and attention.”

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