By James Groh SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC NEWS) In the 21st century, cellphone usage has grown considerably.
“I use my phone from the moment I wake up when I’m walking to class in class which I shouldn’t when I’m eating when I’m walking to class so basically every minute of the day,” Syracuse student, Alexis Ho said.
According to a study by Common Sense Media, a non-profit organization specializing in teaching families and their children appropriate uses of technology, adolescent children use their phone almost five hours every day.
For some, like Syracuse senior Sudan Zhuang it’s even more.
“I actually use my phone pretty frequently after checking yesterday I used my phone about 7 hours per day which is a lot,” she said.
She downloaded the app, Moment, that allows her to track her phone usage and what types of apps she uses the most. The app’s goal is to help users cut down on screen time. However, Zhuang said that it hasn’t changed her consumption habits at all.
It’s these kinds of stories that are concerning parents.
“It takes away from the human interaction and I think the family time and there is so much on this little piece I feel like we are losing our kids to information that is not all true,” Payal Dalal, a mother of two young children, said.
That’s why she went to a screening of the documentary, Screenagers. It outlines the effects of screen time, specifically too much of it, on the neurological processes, cognitive development, and the social implications.
Parents piled into the auditorium it was shown at because they wanted to know how to reach their children and deal with the problem. Bahman Admani is studying to be a psychiatrist at SUNY Upstate Medical School but also has two kids. He said that because he didn’t grow up with such pervasive and accessible technology, he isn’t sure how to approach the situation.
“This is something that none of us know what the right answer is because of our generation.”
Even his wife, Lily Amadi, who is also an elementary school teacher doesn’t know what to do. She imposes rules against phone usage, “second time they are supposed to write an essay and the third time Is just getting a zero for one of their major exams,” but it’s not always effective, “I am constantly telling my students put your phone away.”
It’s why so many other Onondaga County parents joined her and her husband in an effort to find a solution.
However, what the problem actually is and who or what is to blame, is difficult to pinpoint. Social media is obviously a concern but our Facebook and Instagram to blame or is it the media companies that publish on those sites.
Snapchat’s feed is a prime example of marketing towards the younger generation. The content includes lots of graphics, short articles, and catchy headlines. While a finger can be pointed at those publishing companies, Steve Sarconi says that it’s just the industry.
“I personally don’t have a problem with that…but it’s my job to make people watch our stuff.”
After all, business is business. Sarconi needs to get clicks. Apple needs people to buy its newest phone. Facebook needs people to scroll through its feed.
On the other hand, parents often use tablets, video games, and movies to distract their kids.
“What do I do put a movie on and put food in front of them and I went and got ready,” Lily Amadi said.
Maybe that means parents are enabling their kids, but PTA President of the Fayetteville-Manlius school district and mother of two says that its tough to control as the kids get older.
“We were very limiting for screen time but as they get older that’s very difficult to do,” Alicia Burgun said.
That doesn’t mean she isn’t trying. She says that she enrolls her kids in sports and musical activities to keep them off their numerous screen options.
Regardless of who is to blame, what the cause is, or what the effects are, the problem persists. It’s why Screenagers has been played at over 3,000 different schools in the past two years.
“We all know it’s a problem but how do we fix it. I don’t know,” Burgun said.