• Diana Bishop

Teens and Tech

Why is technology so addicting, especially to teens?

According to ABC News, teens spend an average of over 7 hours a day on their various devices, not including school work. This is more than how long the average teenager sleeps! With the continued advancement in technology, we have seen an increase in tech addiction.

There are many factors that go into tech addiction, but with the strategies companies use now, it is almost impossible for young adults to resist the temptations that come with it. Insider did an article about how phone and computer apps, for example, use different strategies to lure people in. One feature that many apps share is notifications. Once you allow notifications to an app, your screen time is almost guaranteed to go up. “According to research from mobile analytics from Urban Airship, sending out weekly push notifications can double user retention” (Insider). Apps purposely make it hard to find and control your notifications which is why it is so easy to get hooked. Other tactics companies include, but are not limited to, filters, likes, comments, stories, and recommendations. These strategies have proven to work and will only continue to get stronger.

In addition to the active participation strategies noted above, there are numerous passive strategies as well, many linked to privacy or lack thereof. Many apps use your camera, microphone, and internet search history to find out everything they can about you. By doing this, they know more about you than almost YOU do! They know what video to recommend, what product to subtly offer you in a banner, what email ad to send you, and numerous other tactics to get you to stay engaged. Since teens are influenced easily, this passive tactic provides companies, and politics, the ability to persuade the teen to buy their product and/or think as they do.

The personal influence advancement in tech has on people overall really came into the forefront this past year with the Presidential election, impeachment proceedings, riots, etc. Political/Newsgroups use various apps to create echo chambers of like-minded people which is one of the leading problems that occur in politics when social apps get involved. With apps gaining information about you, they also gain knowledge about your views and values. This causes you to build stronger opinions and become more close-minded towards other ideas or perspectives. You end up in an echo chamber and this only makes it harder to be respectful towards other opinions. Staying with like-minded people limits your potential and does not allow you to gain a truly unbiased opinion. The addition of fake news makes it even worse and is causing our community to be more divided.

“According to a newly published Pew Research Center report, 55% of U.S. adults now get their news from social media”. (Forbes) That is a scary statistic given that there is around 65% of news that is fake (or distorted) on the internet as of 2018 and this number only continues to grow (Statista). This means that if more than half of adults use social media to strengthen their opinions on politics, and since not all adults use social media, there is a HUGE amount of fake news being forwarded around to help strengthen their own "personal echo chamber of like-minded people". How sad is that! And these are adults, so their kids will end up with similar circumstances by just being in a similar environment and being taught what is ‘acceptable internet behavior’.

Everything I have discussed to this point has also led to a significant rise in teenage mental health issues and suicide. The latest generation is growing up surrounded by Ipads, laptops, phones, etc., and has the most mental health issues on record, which is a direct result in more suicides. “Cell phone usage badly affects [the] mental health of adolescents and they look anxious, depressed, and angry or sometimes commit suicide. The suicidal rate is increasing in this era. Some studies also showed a positive relation of cell phone addiction and physiological health” (NCBI). Being a teenager myself, I have lived most of my life with a mobile device and I can only see it becoming an even larger part of the world we live in. As we become prisoners to our tech, we reduce our chance of being open-minded and a chance to enjoy the moment we are in.

With technology and social media having such a big effect on the world, it will only continue taking over if no one does anything to stop it. Until people learn to check sources and keep an open mind, this will only become a larger problem in the world. We need to control tech, use it for what it is good for, and not have it control us. Sadly, we need to learn to resist tech as a personal ‘crutch’.

You lose any chance to enjoy the moment you are in once you pick up your phone. Although they bring us to those far away, they take us away from the people right next to us. Try to remember that next time you feel that buzz in your pocket.

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