By Ian Christopher Beck ’12
Teenagers indulge in a lot of things.
Depending on their personality it can be partying, sports, music, shopping or a litany of other opportunities.
But there is one indulgence that nearly all teenagers share: technology.
Nowadays teenagers are equipped with 3G and 4G phones, laptops that access the world with the press of a button and tablets that can play games, watch movies and stream live TV.
And for Brophy students, the technology overload is even more prevalent.
Six years ago Brophy debuted the Tablet PC program on campus and now every student carries with them a laptop computer.
Most Brophy classes require students to work with their computers to some degree and some students spend their entire day connected to their screen.
A serious problem arises when excessive use of technology becomes an addiction.
Assistant Principal for Technology and Instruction Mr. Jim Bopp said technology can indeed become an addiction for some students.
Senior Philip Mercado ’12 agreed that technology can be addicting and said students are approaching the point where technology becomes an unhealthy obsession, if they haven’t passed that point already.
“If we get too dependent on it and then are deprived of it … we could wind up with a very bad situation,” Mercado said.
According to a 2010 article on teachersatrisk.com, teenagers spend an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes a day exposed to some sort of media, which is a total of 53 hours each week.
In 2010, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation compiled an 85-page report titled: “Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds.”
The Kaiser Family Foundation is a U.S. non-profit organization that focuses on major health-care issues in the country.
The KFF’s report found that the average time 15-18-year-olds spend exposed to some form of media was even higher than the teachersatrisk.com study, putting the total at 11 hours and 23 minutes.
One of the major forms of media and technology teens are exposed to is their cellphones.
According to Generation M2, 85 percent of teens between 15 and 18 years old owned a cellphone in 2009.
Those cell phone owners spend an average of 33 minutes a day talking on the phone while cell phone users who text send an average of 118 texts in a single day.
High school students in particular spend more than 90 minutes texting on their phones each day.
But in an era dominated by smart phones, texting and calling are just a few of the things teens can use their phones for.
The report also found that teens spend another hour and six minutes each day listening to music, playing games or watching videos on their phones.
A World of Machines
iPad’s, Tablets, Blackberrys, Macs, PCs, iPhones, Droids, Smartboards and more.
There are a plethora of technological innovations in the world today.
Whether it’s a smart phone, a laptop or a tablet, cutting-edge technology is never too far out of reach.
Especially at Brophy, technology is never hard to find.
Each student has their own computer (a touch-screen tablet no less) and most carry cell phones.
Many of those are smart phones equipped with Internet capabilities, games, apps and video-streaming.
Students use graphing calculators, course-specific programs and online presentation platforms for their daily schoolwork.
Guest speakers in classrooms are beamed in via Skype video conferencing, and school-wide presentations involve live polling results via text messages.
And all those exposures are just parts of the average school day. But technology impacts the lives of teenagers well beyond the six-period school day.
At home teens can enjoy innovations like 3D high-definition TVs, surround sound and motion-capture video game consoles.
With a 24-hour news cycle and social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, technology and media are ever-present in the lives of teenagers.
Technology is everywhere, and as the capabilities of devices grow and change, technology is becoming a larger and larger part of students’ lives.
Broncos plugged in, for better or worse
Evan Swager ’12 described himself as “the definition of way too connected.”
He owns three laptops, an iPhone, an iPad 2, an iPod, two televisions and a PlayStation 3.
He conservatively estimated spending 12-15 hours per day using some form of technology.
“Personally I think I’d die without my iPhone…It’s hard though because technology is such an ingrained part of my social life and school life too,” Swager said.
Swager had mixed feelings about the prevalence of technology in today’s society.
“On one hand, we can do things we’ve never been able to do before, and connect with people anywhere anytime for pretty much anything,” he said. “At the same time though, half of the news I see or stuff that’s Tweeted is just pointless.”
For Brophy students who spend their entire school day typing or scribbling on their Tablets, the technology takeover is even more pronounced.
According to Mr. Bopp, when the Tablet program was introduced there were worries that students would turn inward, forsaking athletics, dances and social events for Internet browsing and instant messaging.
However, since the inception of the program, attendance at school events including dances, sporting events and intramural activities has actually increased.
But an increase in social activity is offset by a decrease in student attention spans.
“One thing I do worry about as a teacher … there is some concern about student’s ability to stay focus on a single idea or a single story or a single problem for an extended period of time,” Mr. Bopp said. “Talking with our English teachers, one thing they experience is just how hard it is for students to immerse themselves in a book.”
Mr. Bopp said in order to kick the addiction to technology, students must recognize that over-use of technology is actually a problem.
“I think you have to recognize whether or not it’s a problem first of all because if you don’t see it as a problem you may not be able to do anything about it,” he said. “I think once we get so immersed in it, so used to it, it’s hard to see that it’s a problem.”
Mr. Bopp also encouraged students to make the commitment to break the habit once and a while.
“You say to yourself … for this one day, one day a month, I’m going to be offline … I’ll read a book or I’ll play a game with my family or I’ll go outside and throw the ball,” he said.
Drew Dinsmore ’13 agreed that technology use can negatively impact the lives of teenagers.
“We need to have actual social interaction. Playing video games with friends doesn’t count regardless of what people tell you,” Dinsmore said in an e-mail. “I think the childhood obesity rates in this country show the negative effects of technology very well.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released statistics in September 2011 that reported from 1980-2008 the obesity rates for children aged 12-19 rose from 5 to 18 percent.
Sophomore Kevin Bauer ’14 also said he feels the effects of technological overload.
Bauer said he doesn’t think an hour goes by in which he isn’t using some form of technology.
“I think it can negatively impact us by making us lazy and too reliant on it,” he said. “Everything we do is basically using technology … we have become so reliant on it that if we were to have any sort of problems occur with it, everything could possibly go into chaos.”
However, Mr. Bopp does not think this is a problem that students can’t overcome.
“The human person has a remarkable ability to learn and grow and find balance, and teenagers, by their nature, have a tough time finding balance. But that’s what maturing is,” he said.
Mr. Bopp used the example of his own generation to show how teenagers can grow beyond the addiction to technology.
According to Mr. Bopp, when his generation was growing up the main concern was that television was “rotting their brains” but the youth of his era grew past this.
“We grew up, we matured, we found things out and we’re just as efficient and successful and happy as the generation before us, and so I think the same thing will happen for this generation,” Mr. Bopp said. “I think it’s a new set of challenges but humans are remarkably adaptable and they’ll find a way to mature and find balance in this new reality.”