The media portrayal of the relationship between teenagers and technology is one of outright doom and gloom. However, we know that of all the influences it has had, not all of them are negative or destructive.
A lot of research efforts and studies have shown that majority of preteens and teenagers today are living in a highly stressed environment. Even more so than the previous generations.
A number of external factors have been attributed to this and they include social issues as portrayed by the media, traumatic events, early onset of puberty and emotional issues, increased expectation in educational environments, and a drastic increase in technological advances that make the present day society very fast paced.
Because of this, there is an alarmingly high increase in physical health issues, emotional challenges and negative behavior among teenagers.
“The Power of Habit”, a book authored by Charles Duhigg explained that a part of the human brain, the basal ganglia, has to record every human behavior that comes with a reward. The brain then uses repetition and time to create a feeling of craving and wanting.
For the average teenager that sees school as stressful, the process of coming on to turn on the television set makes the brain release endorphins that make the basal ganglia feel good.
This then makes the basal ganglia crave and more, and this affects the teenager who develops a craving for television and this gets worse each time he or she is in front of a TV screen.
Thus, the teenager becomes addicted to watching TV every day after school.
Studies have also revealed that the continued use of social media causes our brain to release a hormone called Oxytocin.
This hormone is described by a scientist at Claremore Graduate University, Paul Zak, as responsible for engendering the feelings of love, empathy, affection, trust and reciprocity.
According to Paul Zak, interactive sessions on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter creates Oxytocin spikes and this is the point most people often resort to when they want to argue that the social media is hurting the very essence of human interaction.
Paul Zak goes on to say these sessions on social media tend to create the same emotions that real life, face to face interactions do. The basal ganglia imprints this feeling and, thus, the teenager becomes addicted.
A lecture delivered by Larry D. Rosen, a doctor at California State University. Suggested that technology and the social media has a negative effect on today’s preteens and teenagers.
The talk was titled “Poke me: How Social Networks Can Both Help and Harm Our Kids”. In it, he said that the social media and technology has made a lot of teenagers susceptible to depression and anxiety.
The Internet Of Things
The internet has become an inseparable part of many teenagers’ lives. A lot of them cannot even attempt to imagine the way the world ever ran before the invention of the internet.
The internet is an invaluable means of communication and it is an important source of information and entertainment.
Through it, teenagers have access to hundreds of millions of websites that have enough content to keep one busy for a lifetime. This can be in the form of videos, audio, text and photographic content.
Like every other form of technology, the internet has had both positive and negative impacts on our daily lives.
Teenagers are not exempted from this development either since they form a large part of the population of internet users.
Since the development of the internet and its introduction into the mainstream market, the sales of pornographic content has spiked alarmingly.
A lot of information can be accessed online and there is no censor that will keep teenagers from visiting these websites. When they come across pornographic content, they can become addicted.
There are even websites that offer a lot of dangerous information: from instructions on how to build bombs to forums for serial killers.
As mentioned, teenagers run a risk of being addicted to the internet. They can chose to utilize the knowledge they gain online in very dangerous ways.
There have been many instances of teenagers hacking into their school’s database to change exam results, or into a stranger’s laptop to steal pictures.
Some have even gone ahead to hack bank and government websites.
On The Other Hand:
Almost every high school student in the United States can access the internet in their classrooms. Through Online Learning Environments (OLEs) provided by some educational institutions, they can get extra help with their course work.
The resources provided by Online Learning Environments include technological support, instant updates on activities, comprehensive reviews, electronic books and virtual lectures.
Online education is just one of the resources that teenagers can access through the internet.
Through the continual use of technology for research, students have started getting more computer savvy.
Communication And Online Social Networking
The internet has done a lot to make communication easier. Through services like Skype, Facebook, MSN, Twitter and Gmail, teenagers can engage in video conferencing, chatting and email correspondence.
Internet As A Job Search Tool
The internet gives teenagers an opportunity to get jobs easily. The resources available for this include Job Bank, Monster, Craigslist and Workopolis.
Through the search engines listed above, you can learn how to write a valid resume, prepare for an interview or fill out a job application
Here are a few measures you can take if you want to have a bit of control over what your ward does or has access to online:
- Restrict the amount of hours your teenage ward uses on the internet.
- Disconnect the wireless router at intervals.
- Use parental technology devices to restrict access to certain websites.
- Do not enable internet access in his or her room.
- Organize family sessions where you put the computer in the family room and you get everybody involved.
- Turn yourself into a safety sleuth if you have to.
- If they complain of boredom when the router is off, provide alternatives for them. Preferable one that is centered on the family.
- Engage them in conversations about what they access on the internet.
- Change the location of the computers to a common area where everybody will be able to see what they are accessing on the web.