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Screens: Good or Bad?

By Oliver Ng

How much time do you spend on a screen? Take into account that school work counts as screen time. The answer is a lot. At Tauranga Boys College, I would estimate that more than half the students play video games and almost a quarter of students work on their laptops. Experts say that if you add school work, video games, phone time, and watching TV together, kids spend approximately 5 – 7 hours a day on a screen. For Tauranga Boys College, this would mean that there are more than 510 students averaging 5-7 hours of screen time per day. That is simply too much time wasted.

Video games release a neurotransmitter called Dopamine, which makes your brain feel rewarded.

One major issue with too much time on a device is lack of sleep. Not having enough sleep can cause concentration issues and temper problems. One reason students stay up too late is because of video games. Many students I know stay up far too late playing video games. Video games release a neurotransmitter called Dopamine, which makes your brain feel rewarded. This is the same chemical that is released when doing drugs. The hit of Dopamine can make gaming highly addictive, which makes students stay up later.

Another reason students go to bed late is due to them using their devices before sleeping. There is a hormone called Melatonin that is released at night when it’s dark to let your body know to fall asleep. Well, studies have shown that the light cell phones give off mimic daytime and suppress Melatonin, just a couple of minutes on your device at night can keep you up for several more hours. All of this relays back to lack of sleep and lack of sleep affects the learning of students, which is a big issue.

The problem with screen addiction is how it affects our ability to empathize, show compassion for others, and integrate physical signals with emotion. This all happens to a part of the brain called the Insula. Being on a device too often can result in a lack of physical activity, which can lead to obesity and diabetes. Research shows that the more time you spend on your device the less time you spend outside. Being outside is one of the best things you can do for your body and brain, as it reduces stress and calms down nerves. If you spend less time outside and more on your screen then chances are that you are spending an unhealthy amount of time on a screen. This affects our school because if we do not show empathy and compassion for our fellow students and teachers there will be more fights, more detentions and even more unhappy people.

There are many ways screens influence our school – from student behavior to student health issues. Clearly we should spend less time on our screens. I am a believer in using moderation with screens. As long as we monitor ourselves and make sure we are staying healthy, we can use screens for the good they offer and avoid the bad.

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