The Science Behind the Screens

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Emma Groves, Staff Writer

With technology advances occurring more frequently than ever, society has become a world full of screens that many find hard to draw away from. While this upcoming technology can be better for production and manufacturing, it can lead users to draw away from relations outside of the screens that surround them, and thus causing connectivity issues alongside impaired social and emotional skills.

According to, the majority of teenagers spend over nine hours a day on devices. Many argue that they are connecting with friends on various social media platforms and messaging apps, but in reality, these communications are merely one dimensional and ephemeral. When opening a photo or sending a dm, are you really making a lasting connection with whoever you’re talking to? How much easier and real would it be to make that same connection with the person in front of you rather than on the screen in your hands? According to, these “connections” leave people feeling just as friendless, if not more so, as before and leads to shallower relationships in the future. In addition to this, the American Journal of Preventative Medicine argues that being on social media for over two hours a day makes you two times as likely to feel socially isolated.

In addition to social isolation, excessive screen time can lead to brain damage as proven by the Radiological Society of North America. Researchers discovered that youth with internet or smartphone “addiction” actually demonstrated imbalances in the chemical makeup of the brain compared to a controlled group of technology users. A similar study appeared in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research that discovered the cognitive capacity was tremendously reduced whenever a device such as a smartphone was within reach, even when the phone was turned off.

In addition, researchers believe that the use of a smartphone may have a significant impact on children’s social and emotional development. Drawing from the journal Pediatrics, Boston University School of Medicine researchers look into the available literary works on devices used commonly among children. In their findings, they warn that such devices may have detrimental long-term effects on children, specifically their social and emotional development. The issue becomes more prominent as the devices are used to replace activities that usually help build and enhance visual and sensory motor skills. It is noted that the findings are not quite finished and unknowns are still to be seen, but as it stands, researchers question the interference devices have with social and emotional skills like problem-solving and unstructured play.

Lastly, it has been proven that these devices can affect you even in your sleep. In a study written in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences, the time you spend before bed can be crucial to your sleep cycle, especially the time you spend scrolling through social media, checking your email or even playing Trivia Crack right before bed. Experts warn that the light emitted from your device’s screen can deter your sleep cycle even after you turn the device off. In the study done by the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences, a dozen adults were tested on the effects of cellphone usage before bed, and it was found that those who read on a device before bed displayed reductive levels of melatonin. It also caused these participants to have a greater time taken to fall asleep and they experienced less REM sleep during the night. Why? Due to the blue light emitted through their handheld devices. According to the research, “The cells at the back of the eyes contain a light-sensitive protein that picks up certain wavelengths of light. These light-sensitive cells then send signals to the brain’s “clock” that regulates the body’s circadian rhythms. Normally, blue light peaks in the morning, signaling your body to wake up for the day. Red light increases in the evening, signaling that it is time to wind down and go to bed. By interrupting this natural cycle with the blue light emitted by mobile devices, the normal sleep-wake cycles are thrown out of whack.”

With the research piling up almost as quickly as Apple’s assembly line, one has to stop and consider the long-term effects of these glorified devices. The greatest things can still be great as long as they are held in moderation and treated carefully, for if we ignore the effects of these rapid technological advances, we are setting ourselves up to become slaves to the screens that bind our attention. It is through moderation and education that one can be set free of the screens we are bound to.