13 Apr Are our teens addicted to screens?
Teenagers and Internet Addiction
Teenagers today have grown up immersed in technology. They literally can’t remember a time before any answer was only a click away on Google Search. They carry their world around in their pocket, sharing their day-to-day adventures on Snapchat and Instagram. They’re frequently accused of being addicted to their digital devices, fending off countless “back in my day…” jibes. But, who’s got it right? A US survey highlighted that teens were spending 9 hours a day on screens. And that’s in addition to screen time at school or when doing homework. Are our teens spending too much time online? Are they addicted to the internet?
The burning question: how much time should teenagers spend on screens?
New research from the University of Oxford highlights how moderate use of digital devices can actually enhance the well-being of teenagers. In particular, their creativity, communication skills and development. The key word here, however, is ‘moderate‘. As with everything in life, maintaining a healthy balance is crucial. The study found that after approximately four hours a day spent on digital devices teenagers’ well-being was no longer being enhanced. And this varied for device type and time of the week. The research highlights that “moderate’ levels of digital screen use are lower on weekdays because the weekdays are relatively richer in opportunities for socialising and learning compared to weekends”.
Screen time limits for teenagers:
The University of Oxford’s research highlights the following recommended maximum levels of daily screen time for teenagers on weekdays (after which their well-being no longer benefits):
- 1 hour 40 minutes for playing video games
- 1 hour 57 minutes for smartphone use
- 4 hours 17 minutes for recreational computer use
Is your teenager addicted to the internet?
In addition to spending excessive time on screens and online, there are other warning signs of internet addiction in young people and teenagers. Do you know if your teenager needs help overcoming a screen-based addiction? This internet addiction test will help give you a clearer picture of your child’s technology dependency:
- Is their schoolwork negatively impacted due to the amount of time they spend online?
- Do they become angry or depressed when they can’t get online?
- Do they put their internet use before spending time with friends?
- Are they lacking sleep because they use their digital devices late at night?
- Do they prefer to communicate online rather than in person?
- Are screen-based activities (online gaming etc.) their only extra-curricular hobby?
Why does technology addiction in teenagers matter?
The research mentioned at the beginning of this article highlights that a certain amount of screen time can actually be beneficial for teenagers. However, anecdotally it seems few teenagers meet a ‘moderate’ amount of time spent using digital devices. Internet, social media and phone addiction in teenagers can hit at a crucial stage of their self-development. In addition to interrupting school work, sleep and social activities, research shows how excessive internet users are five times more likely to suffer from depression. Teens are exposed to immense social pressure to conform to the perfect (and therefore unattainable) lifestyles and bodies they see shared online. This ‘compare and despair’ factor is often highlighted as a key cause of teenage eating disorders, too. So, it’s crucial to educate our teenagers about the impact of their screen use. Understanding the benefits and drawbacks of technology as a teenager will encourage a healthier balance with screens during adulthood.
Are you worried about how much time your family spends online? We share great advice on taming teen tech time and creating a healthy balance for your children. Or, why not find out more on ways to overcome internet addiction?