Phones are destroying attention spans

Phones have been part of our lives for almost two decades now, and with that comes so many new additions to our already technologically advanced lives. For instance, the ability to call, text, take pictures, listen to music and watch videos all on one device. With all of these tools readily available at all times, it’s easy for us to get carried away.

As of now, around 89% of the human population owns or has had access to cell phones. We use our phones every day of our lives, in fact, the average American teenager’s screen usage is estimated at around seven hours per day. That’s almost an entire day of checking your phone – does all of this screen time have any long term effects on your attention span?  However, it has been reported that younger individuals (specifically under the age of six-seven years of age) are diagnosed with ADHD because of prolonged exposure to screens. Performance at school, let alone outside of school, is affected by screen time, and the side effects that come with it. 

Phones are an easy fix for dopamine while providing constant stimulation for the human brain. And as with most things that pleasure the brain, people get addicted. Things like constantly checking our phone for notifications is an example of how hooked our brains get. Phones becoming a part of our daily lives may not be a bad thing, but the general usage of the phone revolves around entertainment, rather than utility for younger phone owners. 

Long amounts of screen time for younger children can affect their ability to learn, but also the way they socialize. Teaching a child the simplest social skills such as decision-making abilities, language skills, teamwork, friendship and problem solving skills. These are all concepts that will come into play way later in one’s life. When you spend your childhood staring blankly at screens, you aren’t spending any actual time bonding with others, better yet socializing. Confidence is the leading factor to one’s success in their later life; building that confidence through social interaction is what younger individuals should be doing, rather than subjecting themselves to high amounts of screen time. 

Can screen time affect your ability to sleep at night? People under the age of 18 often display signs of insomnia because of how blue light affects the brain. Younger individuals additionally have eyes that let in more light, therefore restricting screen-time during the evening may make it easier for one to fall asleep. But how? Screens (traditionally phones) emit small amounts of blue light, which is similar to sunlight – people are more situationally aware when subjected to high amounts of sunlight, thus making it hard to doze off at night. 

Phones are not a bad thing at all; everyone utilizes them in different ways — but it goes without saying that our lives have been completely changed by the presence of phones. What do all of these side effects to owning electronic devices mean for the future? It’s fairly obvious that many manufactures are not done upgrading their products, so only time and patience will tell.