Today, teenagers constantly plug into technology. They’re always playing on smartphones, gaming, and sharing their lives on social media. On average, those between the ages of eight and eighteen spend approximately seven hours a day on screens. Unfortunately, this is a habit that could have a seriously dangerous impact on their health.
While banishing technology completely from a teenager’s life may be impossible and possibly even counterproductive, students, parents, and influential figures alike should be working together to impose guidelines on the amount of exposure young adults get. After all, studies are proving that too much time spent in front of a screen can damage the growth and development of teenagers. From harming sleep patterns to increasing body fat, reducing physical activity, and even promoting the development of depression, anxiety, and stress, electronic screen-time may be as detrimental as it is convenient.
The Impact of Electronics on Sleep and Concentration
According to research, young adults who spend too much time on electronic devices often have more trouble sleeping at night. Studies have found that cumulative screen time affects how long and how well teenagers sleep. The more time young adults spend on electronics, the less sleep they’re likely to get.
Though scientists are still exploring why screen time impacts sleep, some experts suggest that the light from electronic devices interferes with the human circadian rhythm. What’s more, devices could be responsible for stimulating the nervous system, making it difficult for you to fall asleep.
Sleep deprivation is a dangerous thing in all stages of life; however, it can be particularly detrimental to adolescents whose brains are in the process of developing. Sleep deprivation causes teenagers to perform badly in cognitive tasks and experience less control over their emotions. Sleep supports the brain processes critical to memory, learning, and emotional regulation.
Choosing to Unplug
It’s understandable that young adults navigate more towards the benefits of technology. After all, many career options involve the use of technology. The ability to remain connected to peers can also provide a useful solution for making plans and keeping in touch. However, it’s also important to weigh the risks associated with too much screen time.
Without the right amount of balance in a young adult’s life, it can be impossible to develop crucial time management skills essential for academic success, or devote enough time to outdoor activities and personal growth. Too much time spent online can lead to concentration and memory problems, reducing a teenager’s ability to make crucial decisions, set goals, and act appropriately around others.
Recent studies suggest that choosing to set aside technology in favor of exploring nature could help boost creative thinking and bypass some of the negative effects associated with excessive screen time. With that in mind, the aim should be to find balance between encouraging technological development and understanding in teenagers, ensuring they have the opportunity to explore other aspects of life.
The Benefits of Time Away From Electronics
The only way to lower the negative impact that excessive electronic exposure can have on teenagers is to promote the benefits of unplugging — even if it’s only for short periods of time each day. An inability to escape technology can lead to “tech stress”, leading to an increased chance of depression and emotional turmoil in young adults.
Scheduling regular time to unplug from technology is important, as the brain needs recovery time in order to grow and develop. For instance, one study conducted by the University of Michigan found that patients who took a walk after learning something new were more likely to retain the information. In other words, time without technology can help the brain to reboot.
On top of this, scheduling time away from technology can also:
- Reduce discomfort and pain throughout the body. The issue of “tech neck” is growing prominent, thanks to the strain that texters place on their spine and neck through staring down at a computer monitor or phone screen for too long. Through unplugging, individuals can enjoy better posture, less eye strain, and fewer aches in their muscles.
- Increase awareness of your surroundings. When unplugging from technology, you’re removing a huge distraction from your world. As such, teenagers will be more likely to notice small details, places, and things they never noticed before.
- Allow for better sleep quality. As mentioned above, the human circadian rhythm depends on darkness in order to prepare the body for sleep. Banishing light emitting devices can be a huge benefit to the body, allowing for a more complete and restful sleep cycle.
- Improve mood and memory retention. Even taking the opportunity to unplug for a couple of hours every day is enough to allow the brain to reboot, lift your mood, and improve memory skills. Less technological stimulation gives teenagers the time to focus on activities that grow and develop the brain cells.
Be More Creative and Productive
The constantly connected world that we live in today has made it easier than ever to assume that we need our web browser, email inbox, and social media accounts in order to be productive. However, the truth is that the accumulation could be interrupting a young adult’s life, making it difficult to get things done.
By powering down every once in awhile, young adults can find new ways to be creative, contributing to the world around them by developing their skills and minds. From getting out into nature, a concept that many cognitive psychologists believe is essential to improving mood, to taking the time to grow new brain cells, moments taken away from the online world are crucial to the growth of any young adult.
Featured photo credit: Shutterstock via thumb9.shutterstock.com