Education - Page 8 - Ask Margit, from page 1

- Page 8
Ask Margit, from page 1
Ask Margit, from page 1

haven’t used it. We limit how much technology our kids use at home.”

Unfortunately, what’s in it for teens and college students today is skyrocketing rates of anxiety. A 2013 survey done by the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors found, “Ninety-five percent of college counseling center directors surveyed said the number of students with significant psychological problems is a growing concern in their center or on campus. The survey also found:

• Anxiety is the top presenting concern among college students (41.6 percent), followed by depression (36.4 percent) and relationship problems (35.8 percent).

• On average, 24.5 percent of clients were taking psychotropic medications. However, 19 percent of directors report the availability of psychiatric services on their campus is inadequate.

• Directors report that 21 percent of counseling center students present with severe mental health concerns, while another 40 percent present with mild mental health concerns.”

College kids are not alone. In 2016, Andrew Sullivan wrote an article for New York Magazine titled, I Used to Be a Human Being: An endless bombardment of news and gossip and images has rendered us manic information addicts. It broke me. It might break you, too. He decried the lack of real human communication replaced by a never-ending urge to interact with one’s smartphone. “There are books to be read; landscapes to be walked; friends to be with; life to be fully lived. But this new epidemic of distraction is our civilization’s specific weakness.”

It’s that word – addict – that’s so scary. And so accurate. The definition used by Cal Newport in his book Digital Minimalism goes like this: Addiction is a condition in which a person engages in use of a substance or behavior for which the reward effects provide a compelling incentive to repeatedly pursue the behavior despite detrimental consequences.

Yes, behaviors can be addictions, too, not just substances. Think gambling and internet gaming. Since 2013, the American Psychiatric Association includes behavioral addiction as a diagnosable problem.

How is this exhibited? Americans check their smartphones 80 times a day, once every 12 minutes, says a 2017 survey by Asurion, a global tech company. Why? Separation anxiety. And FOMO. Take a look at those you know. Do they sleep with their smartphones? Probably. Because otherwise, they won’t get that next notification, that next high.

But this behavior, this addiction, also manifests itself in young people not being able to focus, to concentrate. The disruptions to their brains – and their attention – are almost constant. And the repercussions affect their futures: how they complete actions that require focus and concentration, such as college classes and employment. But wait…there’s more.

Social media use increases depression and loneliness. In the first experimental study of Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram use, psychologist Melissa G. Hunt, associate director of clinical training in University of Pennsylvania’s psychology department, showed a causal link between time spent on the platforms and decreased well-being. She published her findings in the December Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology. “The limited use group showed significant reductions in loneliness and depression over three weeks compared to the control group. Both groups showed significant decreases in anxiety and fear of missing out over baseline, suggesting a benefit of increased self-monitoring,” the report stated.

Bill Maher in a monologue after the 60 Minutes segment aired, said, “Social media tycoons should stop pretending that they are friendly nerd Gods building a better world and admit they are tobacco farmers in T-shirts selling an addictive product to children. Let’s face it,” he continued, “checking your ‘likes’ is the new smoking.”

We know what tobacco does to us. Do we want the latest addictive substance to do something similar? Probably not. •