cell phones
February 8, 2012

Wired Generation: Part Two

Did these three teens survive their tech-free week?

Adriana: So, after pulling the plug on our teens, we checked up on Steven, Christina and Tiffany to see how they were holding up.


Steven: Hey!

Adriana: So, how has everything been going?

Steven: Fine. Yeah, the usual. Just no phone, no internet.

Adriana: And what did you do with all the time on your hands now that you couldn’t go on Facebook or Tumblr or text your friends?

Steven: Just read my book more than I would if I was on Facebook. And, yeah, catching up on sleep too.

Adriana: So, you slept more?

Steven: Of course.

Adriana: Without Facebook?

Steven: Exactly.

Adriana: No big surprise there. One study found that 80% of teens don’t get enough sleep. And another study showed that four out of five adolescents have slept with their cellphones by their bed.

Besides catching up on some z’s, Steven says this experience has taught him something about himself.

Steven: You don’t really need your phone or Facebook, and it can be a waste of time. But I relied more on my phone or Facebook more than I realized anyway.

Adriana: So, how do you think it is going to feel when you get your phone back?

Steven: I don’t know if it’ll change anything. I’ll probably use it the same amount. It will be good to have it back.

Adriana: Looks like Steven is keeping his cool. But what about Christina?

Hey, guys! Welcome back! Come on in.

When she is awake, she says she takes it day by day.

Christina: It was very hard at first. I felt lost and like I was always missing something. After a few days, I kind of just forgot about it, and I think around the fourth day, I was fine. But then once the weekend came, I was just looking forward to the next week so I could get my phone back.

I feel like it did though, however, help me do better in school for this week because I did focus a little bit more, especially with the SAT on Saturday. I was able to study a little bit more and be a little bit more relaxed.

Adriana: Some experts say that is exactly why  teens need to unplug. One study showed half of students 8 to 18 are using some form of media while they are doing homework.

Dr. Sherry Turkle, who teaches at MIT in Boston, has interviewed hundreds of teens about their media use. She thinks these digital distractions might prevent teens from focusing and absorbing information.

Dr. Turkle: Turns out that the brain needs time to rest. And if you take up every moment of that downtime with filler, you never give your brain that time to rest. It’s as though you never slept in a way. So, we’re constantly stimulating our brains now in a way that we don’t yet really know the longterm effects of.

Adriana: But not everyone agrees. In fact, Don Tapscott, author of two books about growing up digital thinks this wired generation could actually be getting smarter.

Don Tapscott: There’s a growing body of research that suggests that exposure to interactive media and technology is pushing the brain beyond its conventional capacity and limitations.

Adriana: So multi-tasker Christina says she gained some focus. But what about Tiffany?

So, Tiffany. You seem like an honest gal. Have you kept to the pledge to not use your cell phone and not go online and do any social media?

Tiffany: Yes, I have. I have not gone on Facebook and I haven’t had my cell phone all week. So, yeah.

Adriana: I’m proud of you. Yay!

Tiffany: I don’t know. I felt like there was a lot less stress on me for some reason this week. I didn’t have to worry about every little thing. More free time, I guess, for myself.

Adriana: Dr. Turkle worries that the constant connection can make teens more anxious or depressed.

Dr. Turkle: Well, in some ways it’s making us all more anxious, young and old. So you’re sitting at home doing your homework and your friends are putting up the parties they’re going to and the places they’re at and vacations, and it makes people feel like they’re always missing out.

Adriana: So, what are some of the things that you did in the time that you would have texted or been on Facebook?

Tiffany: I was probably reading or doing homework or just talking to someone.

Adriana: And just talking is something Turkle says teens need.

Dr. Turkle: The number that say to me, ‘I don’t know how to talk on the phone, I just text. I don’t know how to have a conversation.’ They’re trying to say they don’t have practice in having that kind of conversation where their feelings come up. And they know that they’re losing face-to-face because they’re online so much.

Adriana: But Tapscott disagrees.

Tapscott: There’s no evidence to suggest that time online is hurting social skills. Because time online is not taking away from hanging out with your friends and talking to your parents, it’s taking away from television.

Adriana: In other words, according to Tapscott, the amount of time that teens today spend online is replacing the time teens decades ago used to spend watching TV, and not replacing face-to-face interaction.

And so, finally, after seven long, hard days, the moment Tiffany, Steven, Christina and their classmates had all been waiting for arrived!

Adriana: I have your cell phones! Hi, everybody!


Adriana: How has this week been?


Adriana: So, what sort of things have you been doing without your phone?

“I’ve been eating and sleeping and nothing else, and I want my phone back.”

“I had to make calls from my house phone. The most awkward thing is when your mom picks up and a guy is trying to talk to you. It’s so awkward.”

Adriana: Mr. Mendolia, how has this experience been for your students?

Mr. Mendolia: They’ve been cranky all week. They really have. And it’s unbelievable to see how much they rely on their phones 24/7, even though they shouldn’t have them on in school.

“I think everyone, not even teenagers can survive without a cell phone. Everything is run with technology. I mean, you’re holding a camera to my face, that’s technology.”

Adriana: What sort of things have you guys learned from this experience?

“Like, most of us are attached to our cell phones and we can’t live without it.”

Adriana: So, even though the technology is here to stay, these teens can say they know how much they depend on their phones, and how to survive without them.

Ok, let’s do the unveiling of the phones. All right. Here we go. They’re probably all dead.

Adriana Diaz, Channel One News.


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