Written by Devin Miller, Relate Contributing Writer
If you’ve felt like most of your free time is spent surfing the Internet, listening to your Ipod, or texting your friends, chances are you are not alone. According to a study from the Kaiser Family Foundation, children and teens ages 8 to 18 spend more than seven and a half hours a day on electronic devices (not including time spent on their cell phones). When you count cell phone use, an additional two hours can be added to that figure! Conductors of the study were shocked by the results. In 2005, they had concluded that it was not possible for the amount of time spent using technology to grow.
“In the second report, I remember writing a paragraph saying we’ve hit a ceiling on media use, since there just aren’t enough hours in the day to increase the time children spend on media. But now it’s up an hour,” Stanford communications professor Donald F. Roberts said in a New York Times article. Considering how much we multitask also bumps up the numbers. When we do a few things at once like browse the web and listen to music, we squeeze 11 hours of media into the average seven and half hours!
The inevitable question seems to be, so what? How does all of this time spent using technology affect us? The answer to this question is not as clear-cut as the statistics. Some people believe that we need to accept that our society has become much more advanced, and that new technology is something to be embraced. With new gadgets coming out every day, it only makes sense that our time spent using such devices will increase. Dr. Michael Rich, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital Boston, explains that technology is a part of a child’s environment, and we should not argue over whether it is good or bad. According to the study, 47 percent of the heaviest media users had mostly C’s or lower.
On the other hand, only 23 percent of the light media users had such grades. The study also revealed that young people who consumed at least 16 hours a day of media were more likely to say they feel bored or sad, they get into trouble, do not get along with their parents or are not happy in school.
When reading these statistics, it is important to keep in mind that the study can’t prove that media use causes these problems. It may be that children who come from a struggling or troubled background turn to heavy media use as an escape.
The presence of technology in our everyday life is simply undeniable. We need to learn how to embrace it while not letting it take over our lives. Truth is, a face-to-face conversation or a handwritten note shows much more thought than texting someone how you feel in less than 160 characters…right?