Teens, are you addicted to or embracing technology?
There’s a lot of hate on Millennials and Gen Z about our excessive use of screens. Parents, teachers, and the press all seem to be focusing on it. Everywhere commentators are constantly bringing up our enthusiastic use of Snapchat and Instagram DMs as evidence of our over-reliance on digital communication, and our inability to talk face-to-face. But as our use of tech comes more into the spotlight should we now be asking ourselves, is our tech use healthy and just our way of staying connected? Or are features like Snapchat ‘streaks’ actually harming our mental and physical health? Here are five things to think about when figuring out if you’re addicted to tech, or simply getting the most out of your phone.
#1 Reconsider your streaks
It’s a cliché but Snapchat streaks really are evidence of a toxic culture online. Think to yourself, do you frantically try to find a friend who can take over your Snapchat when you’re out of wifi so that you won’t lose your streaks? Have you ever filed a report on SnapChat’s website to have your streaks reinstated after you lost them (because you were on at least 400 and that effort shouldn’t be wasted)? If either of the above rings true then you may want to consider your investment in Snapchat! It’s a wonderful platform for staying in touch with friends who live far and wide, but perhaps it’s not a matter of life or death if you lose a couple of streaks and have real-world conversations instead.
#2 Think about your sleep
You’ve heard this a thousand times but it has been proven that using screens too soon before bed is bad for your sleep. Teenagers need their sleep. We tell our parents that every morning of the holidays, and quite a few term-time mornings too. So why don’t we put in the effort on our side and try not to spend hours on YouTube before bed? Why can’t we strop DM’ing someone at 2 am and just get to sleep? If you just can’t imagine going to bed without half an hour of ASMR videos, then you might want to reconsider your night-time screen use.
#3 Look at how you work
As teenagers, we’re doing work for important life-changing exams all of the time. Technology has generated some amazing tools to help us revise, such as Quizlet and SparkNotes, but when it comes to revision technology can often be a hindrance as much as a help. Did you know that when your phone is switched off and face down on the desk your IQ drops by 10 points? (How often are you putting it face down anyway?) As useful as technology is, maybe it’s time to reevaluate it in relation to effective study. That doesn’t mean don’t use it, but if your focus and concentration is low, try thinking about whether it’s helpful if your phone is in your eyesight and how much study you could do from books instead of online for a break.
#4 Think about friendships
Although we have far more ‘friends’ than ever before online, these are not the deep connections that we form with our close friends in real life. It’s wonderful to be able to keep in contact with people across the world and meet new ones who share our interests, but that doesn’t mean we should sacrifice face-to-face interaction for screentime. If you struggle to talk to people in real life as opposed to online, you may be reaching a point at which your screentime is having an impact on your real world relationships.
#5 Read our books
If you’re still not sure whether you have a problem or not, our founder, Tanya Goodin has written two books OFF, and Stop Staring at Screens that might help you figure it out. Both are written from the angle of helping you to use screen time effectively. We don’t want to stop you using technology but rather to embrace it without experiencing some of the the negative side effects.
Once you’ve checked yourself against these points you’ll hopefully be able to tell if you need to start limiting your screen time or if you are one of the lucky few who has no problems!