Smartphones, tablets and video consoles can be addictive. They interfere with sleep. They draw kids into an alternate universe, often distracting them from more productive — and healthier — real-world activities. And they are linked to anxiety and depression, learning disabilities and obesity.
That’s according to a growing body of research emphasizing the physical and psychological dangers of heavy screen use.
“Nobody should spend eight or nine hours doing anything except sleeping and working,” says Dr. Sina Safahieh, medical director of ASPIRE, the teen mental health program run by Hoag Hospital in Orange County, Calif.
Yet for many teenagers, mine included, cellphones and social media are also indispensable tools for planning their social lives, keeping up with schoolwork and staying in touch with out-of-town friends and relatives.