Report Suggests Teenage Tech Time Should be Rationed

A major think tank has strongly criticised the influence of technology companies over the health of young people in particular.

The Strategic Society Centre (SSC) has gone as far as comparing the influence of technology firms to tobacco companies.

Concerned about the impact of technology products on the mental health of young people, the SSE has called on technology manufacturing companies to take responsibility for the threats that their products pose to young people.

In particular, the SSC has mooted the idea of establishing guidelines for the recommended daily use of any technology product by young people.

The claims have been published in ‘Screened Out’; a report which particularly focuses on smartphone manufacturers and online social networking sites.

Contrary to the generally perceived public opinion of these aspects of our collective culture, the SSE suggests that both of these commonly utilised forms of technology can have a significantly negative influence on young people in particular.

The SSE calls on companies involved in these technological niches to consider how young people can be detrimentally affected by their businesses.

This possibly controversial, and certainly contentious, report was produced in response to research by Dr Cara Booker of the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex, published in the American Journal of Public Health.

It found that 10 to 15-year-olds who chatted regularly on social networking websites and video game consoles were associated with greater possibility of socio-emotional difficulties.

Additionally, Booker concluded that particularly heavy use of popular technology such as smartphones, tablets and video game consoles can correlate with lower levels of happiness and fulfilment among adolescents.

In line with this report, the SSE has produced a series of guidelines that it believes would have a strongly beneficial impact on the well-being of adolescents.

It is hoped that the drawing up of these guidelines and the recommendations of the report in general will help encourage technology companies to acknowledge their responsibilities in this area.

While studies can often be contradictory with regard to technology, it has been notable in the past that companies such as video games producers have strongly opposed any suggestions that their games could be harmful.

Nonetheless, the SSC wants national guidelines to be issued on the recommended amount of screen time young people should engage with technology each day, while hardware and online experiences should also be redesigned to ensure adolescents’ general well-being.

Booker claims that the proliferation of social media and access to the internet through computers and handheld devices is “one of the greatest changes to society” in recent decades.

“One of the consequences of this increase in use is the effect it has on those who use it, particularly adolescents. The evidence regarding use of social media and wellbeing is growing and it is imperative that researchers, government and private industries work together to address the real public health consequences of poor wellbeing in adolescence becoming worse wellbeing in adulthood. This issue is not one that parents alone can tackle; it is one that requires government and private industry to raise awareness of the potential issues with prolonged use of social media for children and adolescents,” Booker stated.

In October, 2014, it was reported that by digital analysts at GSMA Intelligence that there are now more Internet devices in circulation than people.

This is only expected to exacerbate in the coming years as the Internet of Things becomes a viable mainstream technology.

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