If you’re the parent of a teenager, chances are you’ve witnessed first-hand how addicted to technology this age group has become. Whether they’re updating their social media statuses while playing video games while texting back and forth to their peers, today’s teenagers are more wired -- and, consequently, more distracted -- than ever before. As technology continues to advance at warp speed, if left unchecked, growing up digital can have serious consequences.
Technology has created one issue that most parents and researchers can agree on: it promotes distraction. Today, a teen can’t start his homework without first updating his social media status, logging into his IM account and plugging his headphones into his ears. While teens don’t think this type of overstimulation is a big deal, a study conducted by Harvard researchers found that non-stop media exposure can lead to a host of psychiatric and behavioral symptoms, including sleep issues, hyperactivity, and attention and family interaction problems.
Bullying is no longer limited to taunts on the playground or in school. Unrestricted access to technology has produced cyber-bullying, which is the act of using technology to slander, embarrass or ridicule a peer. According to Change.org, at least half of teens have been exposed to some form of cyber-bullying, and these incidents can have serious, devastating and long-term consequences for both the bullies and their victims.
Limited Communication Skills
Another byproduct of overexposure to technology: limited social skills. Many teens freely admit that they’d rather text than talk, and sending 10,000-plus messages a month in texting shorthand can be detrimental to a teen’s verbal and written communication skills. According to research reported in the New York Times, researchers are worried about the impact that texting and virtual chatting is having not only on kids’ writing and speaking skills, but also on their ability to establish and maintain friendships.
Image and Reputation
If you’ve ever heard the saying “Don’t post something online that you wouldn’t want to see on the front page of the newspaper,” you’ve witnessed the staying power of the Internet. Teens can become so absorbed in maintaining their virtual lives that they may fail to realize that the words and images they’re posting online are permanent, and can follow them into their college years and beyond. In fact, more and more colleges are scoping out applicants’ online profiles during the admissions process. If an admissions officer doesn’t like what he sees on your social media profile, he may reject your teen’s application. That momentary lapse of judgment on your teen’s part? It can have lifelong consequences.
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