Guest Column

Op-Ed: Kids Pay a Price for Technology


Addiction. For most, thoughts of drugs, sex and other destructive habits come to mind. However, there is a much more urgent, dangerous behavior that could be plaguing your life or a loved one’s without even knowing it.

The most widespread addiction in teenagers is to their smartphones. 21st Century social media sites like Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook serve as black holes for children, which sucks them in and control every aspect of their lives. In school, students cannot help nervously checking their phones or sneaking a texting moment during class as a compulsive distraction from their work. This leads to falling behind in school, and ultimately more stress on the student.

Also, smartphones are extremely detrimental to the sleep cycles of adolescents, which is crucial for proper development. After retiring to bed for the night, most kids go on their phones to “binge watch” their favorite show on Netflix under the covers, while being exposed to artificial lighting that mimics natural sunlight, instead of dozing off to sleep or, God forbid, reading a book in bed. This stimulates the brain, making it difficult to fall asleep due to the increased brain activity. The vicious cycle continues as the student is sleep deprived the entire next day, leading to mediocre performance in the classroom, mood swings and other negative effects.

Sign Up for E-News

The abuse of smartphones not only physically impacts teenagers, but mentally decreases their social and problem solving skills, as well as damage their personal image. With the “help” of  smartphones, teenagers always have something to look at or play with when life around them gets boring or uncomfortable.This “cop-out” is bad because, rather than conversing with their peers, or reading a book, they always have something to stare at so they can avoid interaction with others. In addition, the overexposure to smartphones leads to immediate gratification which impairs problem solving skills.

Instead of sitting in silence to think through a problem, students simply pull out their smartphones and do a quick Google search to find their answer. This immediate gratification makes teens think they can have anything they want, anytime they want. So, when they are placed in situations that deny them this “right,” they rebel. Since smartphones create anti-social behavior, teens tend to avoid collaborating and communicating with other students to solve day to day problems, leading to decreased brain activity.

Another negative impact the addiction of smartphones can have on teens is lowering their self-esteem. Whenever they visit any social media website, they are instantly bombarded with hundreds of stimuli all sending the same underlying message: you need to be perfect. The advertising industry makes models seem like flawless figures, people of unachievable stature, caricature like. When teenagers see this, it makes them feel as if this is how they should look, and will never be able to live up to the physical requirements of society. This is yet another detriment to the psyche of a developing teenager.

Finally, the addiction to cell phones can increase opportunities for cyberbullying. Since teenagers are constantly on social media websites, they are vulnerable to others seeing snapshots of their lives, which can lead to bullying if their lifestyle is not “accepted.” Cyberbullying can be very serious and can negatively impact a child for the rest of his or her life.

Overall, through advances in technology, smartphones have made once frustrating, strenuous tasks into simple ones, but with a price. This widespread addiction found mainly in teenagers can be attributed to various social media websites that have wide-ranging, harmful effects on both the physical and mental health of an individual. This might be a case where old fashioned communication serves us better than technology.

Matt Barmakian will be a senior at Westfield High School this fall.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer. Click here to submit a Guest Column.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Elizabeth Man Gets 25 Years for Sexual Assault of Child at Linden Motel

March 24, 2018

ELIZABETH, NJ - Jonathan Tavara-Nima, 32, of Elizabeth has been sentenced to 25 years in state prison for sexually assaulting a young child he was hired to care for in May of  2017. 

An investigation by the Union County Prosecutor’s Office Special Victims Unit and the Union Police Department revealed Tavara-Nima was hired by the then-6-year-old girl's family in 2016 via the ...

Synopsis of Westfield Board of Education Meeting on March 19

March 22, 2018

Following the board announcements, I noted the increased police presence at each of our ten schools, thanking the town and police department for their efforts.  I also noted that we’ve been working on updating our crisis communication plan in light of today’s climate of instant communication.

Board president Gretchan Ohlig thanked the mayor and police chief for working with ...

Upcoming Events


Sat, March 24, 10:00 AM


March for Our Lives - Westfield

Government Law & Justice

Sat, March 24, 10:00 AM

Burent Middle School , Union

Union County Wide - March for Our Lives

Government Law & Justice


Sun, March 25, 11:00 AM

Shackamaxon Country Club, Scotch Plains

Hear Our Voices: MemoryCare Plays

Health & Wellness

Westfield Police Blotter: More Than $2K Worth of Items Reported Stolen from Business, & More

March 21, 2018

March 11, 2018 6:42 p.m.

Marion Bethea, age 56, of Roselle, was arrested on the strength of an outstanding warrant for her arrest from Columbia Municipal Court in the amount of $500 pursuant to a motor vehicle stop. Subject was processed and released on recognizance.


March 16, 2018 11:16 a.m.

Blas Barquin, age 34, of Cranford, NJ, was arrested on the strength of an outstanding ...

Video: Dietze Indicates Equity Drop Means Investors Should Go Bargain Hunting

March 24, 2018

Point View Wealth Management's Founder, President and Chief Investment Strategist, David Dietze, live on CNBC on taking advantage of market weakness to find investment opportunities right now!

For nearly 25 years, Point View Wealth Management, Inc. has been working with families in Summit and beyond, providing customized portfolio ...

Westfield Parents Host 25th Annual Awareness Expo

More than 200 parents, educators and other members of the Westfield community attended the 25th Annual Awareness Expo on March 14, hearing from well-regarded specialists on such topics as resilience, anxiety, decoding dyslexia and more.

“As a relative newcomer to special education three years ago, I have been overwhelmed by the quality of support this committee offers to ...

Staying On Top

Some people are bulldozers. They move mountains, conquer countries, achieve the seemingly impossible. But then when there are no more mountains to climb, they falter. Routines, maintenance and sustainability are not their strong points. They respond to excitement and challenge, not to the uneventful, monotonous daily grind.

The title word of this week's Parshah, Tzav, means ...

White Standard Poodle Missing from 700 Block of Belvidere Ave. in Plainfield

A Plainfield neighbor in the 700 block of Belvidere Ave. is missing Chanel, her standard white poodle, who ran out the door and was last seen near Leland and Cushing avenues toward Union County College on Wednesday evening.

Chanel is not wearing a collar or tags, and is not micro-chipped.  She has been recently groomed and weighs about 36 pounds.  She is friendly, but may not come if ...

'Trying' explores age, youth and points of history in poignant production

‘Trying’ explores youth, age and points of history in poignant production

By Liz Keill

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – The George Street Playhouse presents an engrossing, two-character play based on the real life of Francis Biddle, former Attorney General.

Biddle, a Harvard educated lawyer, served under Franklin Roosevelt and later Harry Truman during the Nuremberg Tribunal. His ...

Can I Change My Partner?

March 21, 2018

Couples oftentimes look to change the “other.” “If only” the other would make these changes, or do as I say, our relationship would be great. We tend to focus on the other. We tend to focus on changing the other. We tend to focus on the other’s negative behavior. Couples like to report what their spouse/partner is doing and how they are ...

16 Homes Sold Last Week in Westfield, Scotch Plains, Fanwood, Mountainside & Cranford

Sixteen homes sold last week, March 11 to March 18, 2018, in Westfield, Scotch Plains, Fanwood, Mountainside and Cranford:*


TOWN        ADDRESS                  STYLE           RMS    ...


AtlantiCast: Episode 13

On this episode of AtlantiCast, new clinical studies in the fields of cardiology and immunotherapy, national and statewide recognitions for Atlantic Health System medical centers and the inaugural AtlantiCast Collab Challenge!


Financially Savvy Charitable Giving: Donor-Advised Funds

Americans are known to be philanthropic, with an estimated 83% donating to charitable causes. Making the donation convenient and tax-effective is a win-win for both charities and those with a generous heart. Donor-advised funds (DAFs) are a simplistic funding structure available to those with both small and large charitable giving pots.  

Mechanics of Donor Funds

DAFs can be set up ...

Suspended Hillsborough HS Athletic Director Charged with Theft

March 19, 2018

HILLSBOROUGH, NJ — Suspended Hillsborough High School Athletic Director Michael Fanizzi has been arrested and charged with the theft of $10,704 in athletic event receipts over a four-year period from 2013-2017, according to Somerset County Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson.

Fanizzi, 53, a resident of Conover Way in Hillsborough who had been athletics director for 14 years, had been ...