Harmful impact of technology on teens


Photo Courtesy of CHKD

“If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product.” This eye-opening comment was made in a documentary titled “Social Dilemma.” It refers to the many free apps we use on cell phones and how they control us. Although cell phones have many positive effects, they negatively impact health, including a detrimental influence on sleep, excess exposure to radiation, and reduce one’s self confidence.

First off, cell phones have a harmful effect on sleep. Cell phones disrupt circadian rhythms, which heavily impact sleep. An average teenager needs 8.5 – 9.5 hours of sleep per night. Sleep is crucial — it is when your body grows and recovers! People who get adequate sleep have a lower risk of getting cancer and diabetes. Nowadays, on average, teens get just 6.5 hours of sleep on school nights, with the recommended amount being 10 – 12 hours. As mentioned, spending time on phones within an hour of going to sleep is bad for your health as it disrupts your circadian rhythm. A study conducted by Springer, a company that runs a number of scientific journals, reported that sleep disturbance during adolescence may lead to depression. This goes to show that cell phones disrupt certain parts of the brain, making it harder to fall asleep.

Furthermore, cell phones provide immediate access to the internet, which may be detrimental to test-taking in schools. They can be used to cheat or text someone for answers or help. Some schools have tried to combat this by requiring cell phones to be put in ‘cubbies’ that can be removed at the end of class, which may help. However, according to the IDC, “79% of people between 18-44 carry their smartphones with them 22 hours a day. As a reminder, there are only 24 hours in a day.” Students’ having constant access to a device that gives them answers may not help with preserving the integrity of test-taking.

Additionally, cell phones are one of the main sources of cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is when someone uses an electronic device to send harmful and threatening messages to someone else. In this day and age, especially with COVID-19, electronic devices are pretty much the only way to communicate with anyone outside the household. A study done by the National Center for Biotechnology Information  finds that 93% of cyber victims reported negative feelings, namely hopelessness and powerlessness. Cyberbullying before COVID-19 happened to one in every three teens. With so much cyberbullying going on, how come no one has stopped it? Well, according to StopBullying.gov, this is mainly because of three things: cyberbullying is persistent, permanent and hard to notice. Cyberbullying can happen 24/7, making it hard for anyone to get a break from this aggressive behavior. Things on the internet can never truly be erased: they are permanent. These posts can always pop back up as a reminder of bullying. Recent studies have connected suicide, depression and anxiety to cell phone usage. 

However, this is not to say cellphones do not positively impact society. Cell phones enable us to communicate with one another while not physically being face-to-face, something that was crucial during the height of the pandemic. They allow for easy access to entertainment, and provide a way for us to express ourselves to the outside world. Cell phones have both positive and negative impacts, and keeping that in mind while using them is important.