Technology overuse can affect safety, health

technology-webTeenagers today can barely go more than a couple of hours before giving in to the urge to go online. In recent years, people have come to depend on technology in nearly every aspect of their lives. While technology use obviously has many benefits, without moderation its impact can be very detrimental to teenagers’ safety, social skill development, and health.

Overuse of technology can compromise safety. All over the nation teenagers are so addicted to looking at their phones that keeping their eyes off their devices for even a few minutes gets to be difficult. This has led to an epidemic of texting while driving, which kills 11 teens each day and accounts for about a fourth of car accidents a year. In fact, drivers who text behind the wheel have an equal chance of causing a crash to those who drink four beers before driving.

Texting while driving puts not only the culprit at risk, but also endangers the lives of innocent people on the road, highlighting the risk associated with inappropriate use of technology. Technology is in no way inherently bad or dangerous, as it obviously helps people stay connected and provides easy access to help if necessary. It is, however, important to moderate technology use to ensure safety, especially on the road.

Another huge issue is how overusing technology affects teens’ social skills. As they use technology more often, they have started becoming less socially inclined. Melissa Ortega, a psychologist at the Child Mind Institute in New York, says teens use their cell phones as an avoidance strategy by checking them constantly during conversations.

Rather than engaging with new people in unfamiliar scenarios, teenagers can usually be seen just looking at their phones because they find virtual communication easier than dealing with people. This overdependence hinders their adjustment into society and their personality development.

Neuroscientist Gary Small states that young people are not learning how to read body language and nonverbal cues due to their reliance on technology. For example, most find it so much easier to break up with someone over text than to do it in person and deal with the ensuing emotions. But teens need to learn how to think on their feet to prepare for the inevitable difficult situations that they will come across. However, when used appropriately, technology can break down communication barriers.

For example, my brother, who studies at UC San Diego, can keep in touch with my parents and me through instant messaging. This makes it easy for all of us to communicate without making the long trip over or having to schedule meetings. While technology can definitely bring people together, it is important that it is not the only means of conversation as it can never be as effective as personal interaction.

Using technology too often can have a profound effect on teen health. It has been shown that children who spend over 3 hours a day in front of a screen have a 17 to 44% increased risk of being overweight.

With the lure of the instant and convenient entertainment that technology provides, teenagers are much less likely to leave the comfort of their beds and couches to go out and exercise.

While before, teens used to go outside to the park and hang out with their friends, now they usually just stay inside and watch TV or play video games. Furthermore, prolonged screen time can cause eyestrain and can even adversely affect ears and wrists due to the use of earphones and keeping hands stationary for too long. Balancing technology use and physical activity is a good way to maintain optimal weight and stay healthy.

To conclude, technology can be a bane or boon, depending on how it is used. In order to stay safe, social, and healthy, teens must depend less on technology and manage their screen time better. With this in mind, they will be able to reap all the benefits technology provides without the possible harmful impact.

Do you have an interesting teen topic to share? Send your comments/ feedback to

Manasi Maheshwari
India Post News Service

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