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Edison Insider

Social media affects our brains and our sleep

Photo by Sophie Sabato
Eighth graders Laia Colet-Rams and Lidia Wright, sitting with Sadie Soriero, pretending to hide cell phones behind their Chomebooks! Don’t worry, this picture was staged.

Do you have any idea how many hours kids and adults spend on their phones? More than you think–maybe even more than they sleep. Not only do phones and social media affect people’s sleep they also affect people’s brains and how they think. According to research, “Students may spend too much time scrolling through their feeds, which can affect their academic performance and overall productivity. Studies have shown that heavy use of social media can contribute to feelings of anxiety, depression, and loneliness among students” (Linkedin.com). 

The question is: Can the amount of hours a person spends on their phone really affect their sleep? The answer is yes. “Studies show two or more hours of screen time in the evening can seriously disrupt the melatonin surge needed to fall sleep” (https://www.sutterhealth.org).

 What do students think about using phones too much during the day and night? Drew Lichtenthal, eighth grade student at Edison Intermediate School (EIS) stated, “I have a total of three social media apps with an average of nine hours of screen time and four hours of sleep per day.” 

It’s not only students, Janitor Mr. Kevin Womack at EIS said, “I have a six hour screen time with only three social media apps. I get five hours of sleep each night.” 

To add on, eighth grade student Lena Denner declared, “I have an average of 8 hours of screen time and I get 6-7 hours of sleep. I have five social media apps (Tiktok, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and BeReal).”

 Equally important, seventh grader Emily Burke mentions that “I have four social media apps; Tiktok, Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter. I gets six hours of sleep and an average of eight hours of screen time.”

 Is this enough sleep? No, not according to webmd.com: “School-age children (ages 6-13) need 9-11 hours a day. Teenagers (ages 14-17) need about 8-10 hours each day. Most adults need 7 to 9 hours, although some people may need as few as 6 hours or as many as 10 hours of sleep each day. Older adults (ages 65 and older) need 7-8 hours of sleep each day” (webmd.com).

 Clearly, this shows that neither kids or adults are getting enough sleep, at least at Edison Intermediate School. This is because of how much time they spend on their phones. Social media and screen time could have a big affect on their sleep. Studies show that it’s not only EIS not getting enough sleep. “Just over 7 hours: that’s how long the average person globally sleeps each night, new research shows” (bigthink.com).

This amount of sleep may be enough for adults but definitely not kids or teenagers. Screen time is also a big deal and has been increasing over the years. According to the latest available data, the average person spends 6 hours and 58 minutes per day on screens connected to the internet. That’s a 1% (4 minutes) increase over 2021’s figure – equating to 5 billion+ days when extrapolated across all global internet users” (explodingtopics.com).

Our fellow eighth grade math teacher Mr. Zach Crutcher stated, “Phones can be distracting depending on the age. Most teenages find it hardest to resist their screens on social media. On Snapchat, all students do is send black screens with the letter “S” on it called a streak. This isn’t a general connection. It isn’t a real life conversation such as ‘How are you?’ and ‘How was your day?’ Phones and social media are meaningless and unhealthy.” 

Even though Mr. Kevin Womack has a great screen time and short sleep schedule, he understands that “phones still can be distracting because they take you away from important things.”

You might think: Why don’t you just use your phone while working or doing your homework? That’s the problem. Multitasking doesn’t help you get your work done the fastest.

But experts say that multitasking actually makes it harder to focus. For kids, this often means spending much more time on homework. The results might not be as good, either” (childmind.org).

On the other hand, social media has had a positive impact on some students. Eighth grade student Elizabeth Bresnahan said, “My anger and bad mindset has decreased ever since I got Instagram in 5th grade. I opened up as an angry person. Instagram made me feel better and not left out of group activities and events.” 

Another eighth grade student:Mason Wertheimer noted, “My grades seemed to improve after getting a phone.”

Furthermore, not everyone has a large amount of screen time. Orchestra Teacher Mrs. Amanda Gant exclaimed, “I only have 2 hours of screen time on my phone, but I still only get 7 hours of sleep.” 

Sixth Grade student Natalie Reissman added, “I have a lot of screen time. I have 5 hours of screen time and I usually get 6-8 hours of sleep each night.”

In addition, some people seem not be be affected by social media. For example, Scarlett Ruff, seventh grade student, stated, “I have experienced no change in my anger and mental health when I got social media. It has remained the same as before I got it.”   

Seventh grader John Brodo believes, “Phones are not distracting. They are beneficial and help you become creative and help to use your imagination. Many apps help you use your artistic ability and draw what comes to your mind.”

A lot of people who don’t have social media still have high screen times. How can this be? It’s not only about social media. Some apps aren’t considered social media. Some consider apps like iMessage, games, Netflix/movie streaming apps, music streaming apps, Facetime, and Phone are not social media apps. These apps can take up a lot of your day as well. Sixth grader Anabella Zappulla said, “I have no social apps but I spend six hours on my phone each day mostly just from calling my friends.” 

Sixth grader: Agron Judka thinks that screen time isn’t good or bad and “it depends how you use your phone, in the right way or the wrong way.”

Overall, the outcome is that people’s screen time and sleep schedule varies. Some people know how to control their sleep schedule and screen time, while others don’t. Now we know the pros and cons our phones have on our sleep and our mental health.

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About the Contributors
Sophie Sabato
Sophie Sabato, Writer
Sophie Sabato is a writer for the Edison Insider. Outside of school, Sophie enjoys soccer, volleyball, and flag football. She also enjoys listening to Rihanna and The Weekend. Some of her favorite shows are Gilmore Girls, Gossip Girls, The Office and Impractical Jokers. She has a cat whose name is Mittens who is her favorite friend. She also enjoys hanging out with friends and loves summer and the beach. Her goal this year is to become a better writer. She loves eating steak, California rolls, bread, ice cream and cake. She is very excited to be on the Edison Insider this year and wants to be a writer when she's older.
Amanda Basaldua
Amanda Basaldua, Writer
Amanda Basaldua is a new writer for the Edison Insider. She enjoys participating in volleyball games and hanging out with her friends. She enjoys listening to music. Her favorite artists are Olivia Rodrigo and Taylor Swift. She likes to shop at malls, and her favorite stores are American Eagle and Aerie. Another favorite thing she likes to do is watch TV. She likes to watch Fuller House because she says it is hilarious. When she is looking to watch movies, she goes for comedies and dramas. Her favorite school subject is Art, only because she gets to hang out with her friends. She is so excited to share her work with you in the Edison Insider!

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    Jessica CiampaFeb 5, 2024 at 9:00 am

    Wow! This is a really informative, detailed, and well-researched article. Awesome work, Amanda and Sophie!