Live at 6 | Screenagers
James Groh – Syracuse, N.Y. (CitrusTV) – In the 21st century, cell phone 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,” said Syracuse student Alexis Ho.
Adolescent children use their phone almost five hours every day, according to a study by Common Sense Media, A non profit organization specializing in teaching families and their children appropriate uses of technology.
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 kind 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,” said Payal Dalal, a mother of two young children.
That’s why she went to a screening of the documentary, Screenagers. It outlines the effects of excessive screen time on the neurological processes, cognitive development, and the social implications.
Parents piled into the auditorium where it was shown to learn 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,” he said.
Even his wife, who is also an elementary school teacher, doesn’t know what to do. She imposes rules against phone usage.
“The second time they are suppose to write an essay and the third time is just getting a zero for one of their major exams,” she said.
But it is not always effective and she explained that she is constantly telling her students to put their phones away.
It’s why so many other Onondaga County parents joined her and her husband in 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 the question is if Facebook and Instagram to blame or 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,” he said.
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,” said Lily Amadi.
Maybe that means parents are enabling their kids, but PTA President of the Fayettville-Manlius School District and mother of two says that it’s 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,” said Alicia Burgun.
That doesn’t mean she isn’t trying. She says that she enrolls her kids in sports and musical activities to keep them off the 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,” said Burgun.