Digital addiction is a worry

Blog by Mrs Fergusson, Depute Rector

Are we raising digital natives? If your answer is yes then you should be concerned about the long lasting impact it has on your child.

Smartphone usage helps feed teenagers’ social media addiction. The word ‘addiction’ seems extreme but surveys have shown that the current generation of teenagers has grown up online and some are checking their smartphone up to 75 times a day.

I read a recent article that examined this addiction and possible ways to combat the negative impact it has on our teens. As a Depute Rector for Pastoral Care, as an English teacher and as a parent I found it very interesting reading.

Worrying

The '75 times a day’ statistic is very worrying. As a result of their ‘addiction’ teens are facing a whole new range of social anxieties that are alien to us parents. Have you heard of “FOMO” or “Vamping”? They mean “fear of missing out” and “late night texting”. Chances are your teenager will be familiar with them.

But, there is a way of combatting the detrimental side effects of this ‘digital revolution’ and the answer lies in a book – literally!

Researchers at Rochester University have found that solitude – being alone for a period of time with no access to devices or personal interactions – can lead to relaxation and stress reduction. In part of their experiment, subjects were given a short story to read. The subjects were more relaxed and calm. The researchers found that reading carried out in “fertile solitude” enables readers to develop resilience to social pressures and expectations, many of which lurk on social media.

As an English teacher I am aware of the benefits of reading – better comprehension and analytical skills, wider vocabulary, exploring emotions – the list goes on.

Pressures

As a Depute with pastoral responsibility at Hutchesons' Grammar School, I am acutely aware of the pressures of social media so I read with interest this latest research, which also revealed that those who read develop greater empathy.

As a parent, I have resolved to encourage less time on devices and one of the best things we, as parents, can do is lead by example. February is almost upon us – could we all do ‘Facebook Free for February’? I will also be policing the late night device activity at home. Lights out – phones out!

Tuesday the 6th of February is Safer Internet Day and it will be celebrated globally with the slogan “Create, Connect and Share Respect: A better internet starts with you.” It does start with us all using ‘digital empathy’ as a starting point for conversations about how being online can make young people feel, helping them to consider the positive and negative effects being online can have on them and the ways to respond. As a school, we are facilitating peer education in digital empathy, with the help of Police Scotland.

Let's have a conversation about using technology responsibly, respectfully, critically and creatively.

 

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