Wired In

“In the United States right now, 90% of teenagers have a cell phone. Also in the United States, 70% of premature death is the result of driving while talking on a cell phone or playing a car stereo far too loud” (Kaiser Family Foundation). The average teenager in this generation has an iPod for playing overly loud music, a cell phone for texting and calling and a laptop for going online. In other words, kids are overly wired. In addition to actually dying, they are experiencing physical disabilities at a young age, developing social problems, and becoming too dependent on their cell phones and other electronics.
With kids being as wired as they are, they are developing hearing, sight, and tendonitis at early ages. Kids are playing music all of the time and they are playing it very loud. In a 2005-2006 study conducted by the American Medical Association, it showed that 19.5% of teens have hearing loss due to loud music. With kids playing their music at the volume they’re playing it, they are developing hearing loss at age 14 (Goldstein). "One of my friends has really bad hearing. She's always, like, 'What did you say?'" says Wood. It’s not just loud music that is causing disabilities in teenagers. The small screens and repetitive texting on phones are causing sight loss and tendonitis. “It used to be more computer screens causing problems with sight, but now the kids are getting smaller computers and iPhones. I think they’re holding them even closer,” comments Steven Goldstein, an optometrist in Portland, Maine. What experts are now calling teen tendonitis is caused by the repetitive pushing of keyboard buttons, which then causes pain in the lower arm and wrist.
Being wired in is also causing youth to lose face time and relying solely on cell phones and social networks to do their talking for them. With this lack of face-to-face interaction, kids are becoming less effective socially. Instead of having real conversations, they are relying solely on their social networking sites, such as Facebook and MySpace to do their communicating for them. Teenagers are becoming less private and are doing things they wouldn’t normally do, such as putting inappropriate pictures of themselves online. In Florida, Phillip Alpert, then 18, was charged with distributing child pornography and put on the sex offenders registry because after a fight, he sent a photograph of his nude 16-year old girlfriend by e-mail to dozens of people (Wallis). In one case, on a site called Formspring, people use this as an anonymous way to insult people. "The nicest thing you see [on it] is, 'Jane is a slut,'" notices middle school principal, Anthony Orsini. Also, kids are cramming in 8.5 hours per day worth of media like texting, Facebooking, searching the web, watching TV, and playing music (The Online Reporter). This means that kids aren’t really talking to people as much as they used to. Some people are even letting it interrupt their personal life. In Florida, Phillip Alpert, then 18, was charged with distributing child pornography and put on the sex offenders registry because after a fight, he sent a photograph of his nude 16-year old girlfriend by e-mail to dozens of people.
Because of not being with real people as much, teenagers are becoming dependant on their cell phones or other devices, unable to leave them at any time. Bailee Mulholland even compared it to not being whole without it. “When I don’t have my cell phone, I feel like part of me isn’t even there!” She says. At this point, kids can’t even stop texting when they are taking tests. Some are even using their phones to text answers or take pictures of the test, or play recordings with the answers on their iPods. In a series of case studies in Alabama, one teacher even said, “Students have stopped hiding crib sheets and whispering to their neighbors – and started swapping test answers by cell phone, camera phone and PDA” (Etter, p. 17).. One in ten people will answer a text during intimacy. Most will even text during meetings or while they’re eating at a restaurant.

If kids are as wired in as they are now, it will be much worse in the future. Teenagers are aging faster than necessary, putting space in between real faces, and are unable to go a day without their electronics. At this point, something needs to be done. It’s time to pull the plug.





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