By José Pablo Velásquez Alvarado – Education career student
Smartphones and the internet have been such a groundbreaking and immense step forward in terms of technology in the past few decades that society has had a very mixed reception of this phenomenon. This statement holds especially true for the younger generations. This is due to the vastly negative connotation that the use of smartphones and social media have on much of the world’s population. Many articles and headlines claim that the constant use and overreliance on these electronic devices have “ruined a whole generation”. But, is this statement true or accurate? The objective of this brief article is to explore both sides of the same coin on smartphones and social media use in children and teenagers.
The use of smartphones and Social Networking Sites (SNSs) are interconnected since many smartphone users are also SNS users as well. This is especially true for children and teenagers, according to Chiang, Chang, Lee & Hsu (2019); they state that children and adolescents spend more time on this kind of media than any other. In many Asian countries, such as Korea, this phenomenon is increasingly becoming a standard for youth of this age group. Although the use alone is very high, this is more alarming when it becomes an addiction, which can cause many health issues like sleep deprivation, anxiety, problematic behaviors, depression, and other emotional alterations. Although addiction tends to showcase a darker side of smartphone usage, the majority of young users will not be addicted to smartphones or SNSs.
IS IT THAT BAD?
Sok, Seong & Ryu (2019), in their investigation and in contrast with other studies, express that this addiction in the age group is more prone to happening in individuals who have higher risk factors compared to others. These risk factors include lower self-control, high levels of distress, and poor communication skills. In their study, the comparison between the at-risk group to the control group showed that these individuals indeed had a larger inclination to smartphone and SNS addiction. Even though this study, as well as many others, do not demonstrate much of a negative impact on the average adolescent’s use of smartphones, people still blame smartphones and SNSs for mental and physical health issues in today’s youth. As Denworth (2019) explains it, “anxiety about the effects of social media on young people has risen to such an extreme that giving children smartphones is sometimes equated to handing them a gram of cocaine. The reality is much less alarming” (p. 49). The real problem is that it overlooks other more concerning aspects of using the internet, such as privacy and unequal access to this media.
So, does the use of smartphones and the internet “ruin a generation?” Well, the reality is that there is much more to this debate on technology than people assume.Candid_Shots