Technology can be a useful tool for educating teenagers. When used in moderation, it can help students with their studies. However, overuse of technology such as cell phones, computers and television can be harmful in a number of ways. Monitoring your teenager's use of technology will ensure that he stays safe and healthy.
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Teenagers' bodies are still developing and they are establishing the health routines that they will follow as they become adults. Many teenagers spend as much as 21 hours a week in front of the television (csun.edu). Also, research done by Stanford University indicates that children tend to eat more food while watching television. This contributes to child obesity, which can cause very serious health problems later in life.
Some researchers, such as Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Research Center, are concerned about the effect of technology on students' studies. According to research reported in the New York Times, children tend to perform an average of seven tasks, such as texting or checking e-mail, while watching television. This number is significantly lower for older people. While this helps teach teenagers how to multitask, researchers are concerned that this will limit teenagers' ability to focus, subsequently affecting their performance in school.
Teenagers are often discovering themselves and establishing their identity. Technology, particularly the images teenagers see on the Internet and in television and films, has a strong effect on this process. Images on television and in film perpetuate ideals and norms for body image and behaviour, and some research bodies, such as The American Psychiatric Association, believe that teenagers and children often take their cues from television.
The news media have reported extensively on the dangers of "sexting" in recent years. Although the exact number is disputed, a number of teenagers are sending sexually explicit images and videos of themselves over their cell phones. In one prominent case, the teenagers sharing these photos were even charged with child pornography (msnbc.msn.com). Teenagers online are also at risk of being targeted by sexual predators in chat rooms or on social networking sites.
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- Stanford University: Kids Eat Hefty Number of Calories While Watching TV; Shawna Williams
- California State University Northridge: Television and Health
- The New York Times: The Children of Cyberspace: Old Fogies by Their 20s; Brad Stone
- MSNBC: 'Sexting' Surprise: Teens Face Child Porn Charges; Mike Brunker
- Attorney General: Cybersafety