Opinion

Are America’s At-Risk Youth Being Negatively Impacted By Daily Technology Use?

Daily digital dependence upon technology may be having a disastrous impact upon the lives of America’s at-risk youth. According to Child Development, a new Duke University study focused on daily reports of time spent using digital technologies and the number of text messages sent. It concluded that this digital dependence was associated with increased same-day attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Can America’s parents and educators afford to ignore the possible impact?

The new Duke University study reveals increased use of technology in adolescence is linked to attention, behavior and self-regulation problems for at-risk youth. According to the study the problem can escalate and possibly negatively impact hundreds of thousands if not millions of the nation’s youth.

The study examined 151 adolescents in order to determine if there was a relationship between mental health symptoms and the amount of time spent daily with the use of internet social media or texting. The group participants ranged from 11 to 15 in age and were monitored using their smartphones three times a day over a month. The study sample consisted of participants who were drawn from a lower socioeconomic status and were at an increased risk for mental health issues, reported the UPI.

Parents of at-risk children may be alarmed by what the study results show. The Duke study revealed that, when at-risk adolescents used devices more, they were increasingly likely to have behavior problems such as fighting, lying, as well as attention issues. The at-risk youth also displayed attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder symptoms.

Worse yet, there was a direct correlation between the increased amount of time spent online with the increased behavior and self-regulation problems. These serious symptoms continued even 18 months later.

There was a bright spot in the study which parents of at-risk children can be heartened by. In a press release Candice Odgers, professor in Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy, insisted that these same adolescents who experienced anxiety or depression were in fact helped by the use of digital technology. She emphasized that, “This finding makes sense when you think about how kids are commonly using devices to connect with their peers and social networks,” according to the UPI.

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