We’ve all seen it: people walking and talking on their cell phone or walking and texting. Chances are, we’ve done it too. We’re attached to our phones for most of the day, so using our phones while we walk is just commonplace. The danger is: total distraction and not paying attention to your surroundings.
Internet addiction has become a very real epidemic, especially overseas in countries like China. While video games or online gaming oftentimes start out as a fun way to kill time or to enhance education, for some people, gaming can take over all parts of their life. It becomes an all-consuming force that they simply cannot stop thinking about. Relationships begin to be neglected, work performance suffers, grades drop, and soon there is a huge problem that needs to be addressed.
Virtual reality headsets are becoming more popular and recent research has shown that they can act as a pain killer. In fact, they can even help women manage labor pains. Erin Martucci, a patient at Orange Regional Medical Center in New York recently used a virtual reality headset to help her pain management during labor.
A new study has confirmed that action-based video games can help children improve their vision. After 8 hours of brain-training, kid-friendly video games, kids saw a significant improvement in their peripheral vision.
For many of us, our smartphones are in our hands within moments of waking up in the morning. Recent surveys have shown average Americans will check their phone about 150 times a day and some research shows that it could be even higher, up to 300 times a day. In addition, a recent Forbes article reported that 53% of young adults ages 15 to 30 would rather lose their sense of smell than lose their smartphone.
But is there a link to smartphone addiction and specific personalities?
We’re connected to our phones all day and for many people, when they’re driving it is difficult to disconnect for the phone. Whether it’s checking email, chatting on Facebook, or using the Snapchat messaging app, or catching the next Pokémon, motorists are simply not putting their phones down when they drive. In fact, distracted driving is at an all-time high because of cell phone addiction. A recent report out of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that in the first months of 2016, highway fatalities jumped a whopping 10.4% than the previous time frame a year ago. In October of this year, a recent crash in Florida showed that the passenger in one car was recording a Snapchat video as she traveled 115 mph before the car crashed. The collision killed five people. Another accident in Atlanta last year showed that the driver was using Snapchat before it crashed and seriously injured the other driver. (1)
Do you check your cell phone after you’ve gone to bed? If so, you’re not alone. A new poll in the United Kingdom found that 45% of young people, ages 11 to 18 check their phone at night and one in 10 of them check it at least 10 times a night. About 94% of those were on social media, 75% of them were listening to music, and 57% were watching films. About 42% of them keep their phone next to their bed all night. The survey went even further to investigate how mobile use at night is affecting their daytime activities and the results were eye-opening. About 25% of them say they feel tired during the day because of their cell phone overuse at night and 68% say that it affects how they do in school. (1)
A furry puppy or a soft kitten: can pet therapy help combat the modern day effects of technology addiction? The tech culture has completely permeated how we live life today and it’s integrated in how our children learn and process information. Our kids are being exposed to technology at young ages and if overused, their concentration, memory, and thought processing can be negatively affected. For some kids, they exhibit signs of addiction and withdrawal, cannot interact well socially with their peers, and they can even show signs of being numb to what’s going on around them.
Back in the day, kids would play outside for hours at a time. Riding bikes, playing make believe, and playing catch were commonplace after school or on the weekends. Today, that type of play is becoming more and more rare, simply because there is usually a screen everywhere a child turns that’s calling them to sit down and zone out. If you feel like your child is spending more and more time in front of a screen rather than getting outside, you are not the only one. New data released by Exstreamist shows that kids ages 2 to 7 are watching about 1.7 hours of streaming videos per day and young people ages 8 to 18 spend up to 3 hours a day watching TV through online streaming. That equals about 650 hours of streaming movies and TV every year. The National Wildlife Foundation reports that today the average kid in America only plays outside with unstructured play for about a half hour each day. This did not include sports activities. (1) (2)
A new study out of McMaster University in Canada found that young people that are addicted to the Internet are more likely to develop mental health issues such as ADHD, anxiety, inability to focus, and depression. For the study, 254 students were given the Internet Addiction Test (IAT) which was developed in 1998, then they designed their own testing scale to measure results. The data showed that those that screened positive for addiction on the IAT as well as on the researcher’s scale had difficulty dealing with daily activities at home, work, school, or in social situations. The data showed that 33 students were addicted to the Internet and 55.8% of students found it hard to control their use of streaming videos and 47.9% could not keep from using social media. About 28.5% of students in the study were hooked on instant messaging tools. The team also found that 42.1% of the students that were surveyed had mental issues that were linked to excessive use of the Internet. (1) This study also lines up with findings out of the University of Bergren earlier in 2016, where researchers found links between gaming/Internet addiction and more instances of ADHD, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. (2)
School is starting again for many students around the country and that means that it’s time for them to buckle down and start thinking about doing homework and getting good grades. Yet, for many young people, this will be hard because of their addiction to technology and gaming addiction. A new survey based out of Toronto shows that for middle school and high school students, more than 1 in 3 students in grades 7-12 have reported that they have high levels of psychological distress such as anxiety and depression. The study looked at more than 10,000 students in more than 200 schools in Canada and the results showed a 10% increase of psychological distress in the last two years. The survey also showed that 13% of the participating students reported that they have a problem with video game overuse which included symptoms of preoccupation, loss of control, withdrawal, or no regard for consequences. This was an increase of 9% since 2007, the first year that video game addiction was monitored. During the survey, about 16% of students reported that they spend more than five hours a day on social media outlets and nearly two-thirds of students spend more than 3 hours a day in front of a screen, including televisions, tablets, or computers. (1)
In a recent speech in Poland at the International Catholic Youth Festival, Pope Francis made some very strong statements about his view of gaming addiction and some of the negative effects of technology on today’s young people. There were nearly 1 million people there and he was quoted as saying that the overuse of technology is making youth today “drowsy and dull.” During his speech, he encouraged them to step up and leave a positive mark on the world. Pope Francis stated that gaming provides children and young adults an illusion of what life really is – a life that is safe from fear, pain, or worries. He warned that if taken too far, these habits will keep young people from dealing with conflict in the right way and instead immerse themselves in games to find comfort and relief. Pope Francis said, “Dear young people, we did not come into the world to vegetate…we came for another reason: to leave a mark.” With video games, smart phones, iPads, and tablets at the fingertips of today’s youth almost constantly, Pope Francis believes that young people can fail to see what’s happening all over the world and how they can be involved in making things better. (1)
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