Cell phones, social media distracting kids

Cell phones, social media distracting kids


by Erica Heartquist, KGW Staff


Posted on May 17, 2010 at 5:48 PM

Updated Tuesday, May 18 at 1:53 PM

PORTLAND -- Pediatricians warn that kids who are constantly monitoring their cell phones and social media accounts are losing sleep and losing focus - even sometimes hurting their health.

"Everyone always has access and everyone's always on," said Nina Meidow, a senior at Sunset High School in Beaverton.

Twitter, Facebook, instant messaging and texting - everywhere you look everyone is connecting somehow. For many teenagers, it's a way of life no matter what time of day.

"I definitely think people are staying up late, they're always online," said Sara Del Balzo, another Sunset High School senior.

But is this really a problem?

The experts, a classroom full of seniors, told KGW what they think.

Del Balzo said she asked her date to prom via Facebook.

She said her peers are so reliant upon the Internet for day-to-day life, it sometimes gets in the way of other responsibilities.

"Staying up late, I mean, you can see the time stamp on Facebook postings so obviously people are staying up late," she said.

Meidow agreed, "You're always connected, you're always involved. But I feel like it distracts from a lot of stuff, too."

So distracting, that Meidow said she had to cut back.

"I used to be up late texting. I used to have my phone underneath my pillow and it was on," she said. "I just felt like I don't need that in my life anymore. I need my sleep."

And she was right.

"We know that kids who are sleep-deprived are at much bigger risk for obesity, learning problems, memory and concentration," said Doctor Luanne Nilsen, a pediatrician with Kaiser Permanente.

She said teens need to limit the amount of time they spend online and playing video games.

"I'm not saying that we can't have Facebook and I understand that that's how kids communicate today, but I think there just needs to be reasonable limits," she added.

Limits that teachers and parents have to set everyday for children.

"They think they can do it all," said Sunset High School teacher Ken Bell, "They think they're great multi-taskers, but the studies show that they really retain about 30% when they're multi-tasking. If you ask them, they think they're at 80% to 90%."

Is there a solution to the technology overload?

"I would love it if we all went back in time, but I don't think that's possible so I think we're all going to learn to adapt," said Del Balzo.

"All things in moderation, just like grandma used to say right?" said Doctor Nilsen with a laugh.