Almost ten percent of youth spend more than seven and a half hours accessing technology (smartphones, tablets, computers, televisions) daily. It is estimated that they spend an hour and a half per day texting and another thirty minutes talking on a cell phone or smartphone.
There are many benefits, such as increased collaboration and the ability to multi-task, but teachers and coaches should be mindful of the risks accompanying heavy media use. Unplugging from electronic devices for a few hours daily can provide student-athletes with better sleep, enhancing brain development and recovery and regeneration.
Smartphone Use in 2013
- 37% of teenagers have a smartphone and 41% own a cell phone.
- Three quarters of youth use mobile devices to access the internet occasionally but one in four are “cell-mostly” users.
- Teens spend about two hours daily accessing “new” media on a mobile device, in addition to another hours spent on “old” content.
Consequences of Heavy Electronic Devices Use
- Nearly half of the heaviest media consumers (>16 hrs daily) had C averages or below, compared to a quarter of light users (<3 hrs).
- Heavy users are more likely to report that they were bored or sad, experience frustration at school or experience conflicts with others.
Use of Electronic Devices After Dark
- Youth who access electronic devices in their bedroom are 1.5 to 2.5 times more likely to be overweight.
- Seven in ten youths have a television in their bedroom and one-third have a computer with Internet access.
- One half of students reported using electronics after bedtime.
Impact on Sleep Patterns
- One in ten children experience abnormal sleep patterns, a rate that may rise to fifty or seventy-five percent for those will mental illnesses or developmental delays.
- Adolescents and children with poor sleep patterns experience fatigue, reduced memory and learning, lack of focus and increase irritability.
- Video games – even those which are non-violent – can put the body in a state of stress, creating a “fight or flight” response.
- This primitive reaction prevents humans from experiencing deep restorative sleep since their bodies remain on alert.
- Blood pressure and pulse remain elevated hours after play.
- Internet surfing and texting tax adolescent brains because of the intense visual and cognitive stimulation.
- Screen brightness slows melatonin release, which enables the body to experience deep sleep.
- Electromagnetic radiation (created by wireless devices) disrupts melatonin and serotonin levels.
Effects on Cognition
- Video games can help children of all ages develop reasoning and problem solving abilities.
- Transfer from specific activities such as social media or smartphone games to academic work is limited.
- Adolescents can recognize patterns they have seen before but do not apply their knowledge in unfamiliar situations.
- Inspired by independence gained from personal electronics use, youth demand more customization and choice in their lives.
- Projects must be dynamic, varied and collaborative.
- Blumberg, F. C., Altschuler, E. A., Almonte, D. E., & Mileaf, M. I. (2013). The impact of recreational video game play on children’s and adolescents’ cognition. In F. C. Blumberg & S. M. Fisch (Eds.), Digital Games: A Context for Cognitive Development. New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, 139, 41–50.
- Dunckley, V.L. (2011, March 12).Wired and Tired. Retrieved March 13, 2013, from Mental Wealth: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/mental-wealth/201103/wired-and-tired-electronics-and-sleep-disturbance-in-children
- Kewin, T. (2010, January 20). If Your Kids Are Awake, They’re Probably Online. Retrieved March 13, 2013, from The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/20/education/20wired.html
- Madden, M., Lenhart, A., Duggan, M., Cortesi, S., & Gasser, U. (2013, March 13). Teens and Technology. Retrieved March 13, 2013, from Pew Internet & American Life Project: http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2013/Teens-and-Tech.aspx