In Focus: Teens and their technology

Isabelle Loisel
Isabelle Loisel, Edison High School
Twenty-four percent of teenagers go online “almost constantly,” thanks in part to the prevalent use of smartphones, and 92 percent of teens are online daily, according to statistics from a 2015 Pew Research Center report.

It’s no question that electronics and teenagers often go hand in hand in this digital age and culture of instant accessibility. Twenty-four percent of teenagers go online “almost constantly,” thanks in part to the prevalent use of smartphones, and 92 percent of teens are online daily, according to statistics from a 2015 Pew Research Center report. We live in an age where checking social media sites can give us a “dopamine-induced loop” that can make us feel addicted to seeking more information, according to a Psychology Today report. Is it the shiny exteriors, or the opportunities that lie behind the password-protected lock screens that draw people in?

Sometimes, you can’t help but wonder if there is a situation where people choose to not use electronic devices to communicate or find instant answers. Why do we reach for our electronic devices? And what would we do without them?

I asked five students at Minneapolis Edison High School from different backgrounds those two questions. Most students admitted they would be more productive without their electronics, but they also say their devices make communication more convenient. These results are not necessarily surprising, considering how much time personal electronics can take from our daily lives—for both good and bad reasons—but you can’t blame teens for wanting to stay connected in this fast-paced world.

 

Gaochee Pha, 17, a senior at Edison, poses with her iPod during school on April 21. Pha says she feels “panicked and paranoid” without her iPod. So what would she do without it? “I don’t know,” she said. “Even when my iPod was dead, I still had it on me.” Pha (right) checks her messages on her phone between classes. (Isabelle Loisel/ThreeSixty Journalism)

Marcus Lynn, 18, a senior at Minneapolis Edison High School, poses with both of his phones during class on April 21. Lynn says “temptation” is a main reason for reaching for his electronic devices. “I like talking to people. It’s an easy way to communicate with others,” he said. What would he do without these devices? “Be outside a lot more,” he said. (Isabelle Loisel/ThreeSixty Journalism)

Jonathan Cabrera, 17, a senior at Edison, smiles as he takes a selfie during school on April 21. “ From my experience, I usually want to check my messages rather than social media,” Cabrera said when asked why he reaches for his electronic devices. “It’s faster and more reliable.” (Isabelle Loisel/ThreeSixty Journalism)

Erika Sacta, 17, a junior at Edison, says she reaches for her phone often “to talk to friends or my boyfriend, or check what’s going on, catching moments through pictures.” And without her phone? “Probably be more productive, get more stuff done,” she said. (Isabelle Loisel/ThreeSixty Journalism)

Sacta (left) and Jeny Chavez, 17, a junior at Edison who said that if she lost her phone, she would “probably go do something else, like go outside,” share a moment together with their technology. (Isabelle Loisel/ThreeSixty Journalism)

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