“IT’S A NEW WORLD”: CAMH ON THE NEGATIVE IMPACT OVERUSE OF TECHNOLOGY HAS ON YOUTH
The recent decision by the Toronto District School Board to put the brakes on students’ access to Netflix, Snapchat and Instagram during class-time hours shed light on the unfettered impact usage of smartphones and tablets has on a child’s education.
“The feedback (to the TDSB’s decision) doesn’t always reach us centrally,” says TDSB spokesperson Ryan Bird. “But anecdotally, I think it’s fair to say that students didn’t love the idea of not being able to access Netflix, Snapchat or Instagram, but I think they understand the idea behind the steps that were taken. When the network is slowing down as a result of social media and Netflix and causing headaches for staff and students, it’s clear that additional steps had to be taken.”
Still, it’s news like this that pushes the discussion of kids’ over-access to smartphones and tablets to the forefront.
Investigators are just beginning to scratch the surface when it comes to studying the impacts of overuse of that technology on kids, says Dr. Robert Mann, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) Senior Scientist and Principal Investigator.
“Usage rates are extremely high,” he says. “People are spending large portions of time on their devices. It’s relatively new for us, and it’s for everyone to understand what the implications of this are.”
People’s use of technology can become compulsive, or addictive, he adds. “Like a drug, if you will,” he says. “Investigators are looking at tech usage from this perspective and are finding fairly impressive data to support looking at it from this perspective. But what we also need to keep in mind – technology is evolving as well. We need to keep our ears to the ground, and understand how it is evolving, and how that is impacting youth.”
CAMH has released a series of studies dedicated to the issue over the past few years. Expect more down the line soon. Dr. Mann took note of the TDSB decision a few weeks back. Having a conversation with your child is important, he adds.
“This is an issue for all of us,” he says. “Having a conversation with your child is important, but it’s also important to set a good example yourself.”
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