Attack of the Screenagers!

By: Marisa O’Connell and Maya Balakumaran

Marisa O’Connell and Maya Balakumaran, Writer

Teen mental health is a problem that has been getting worse with time. According to the Teen Mental Health Organization, 1 in 5 young people have a mental illness related to anxiety and depression. Many experts believe that the increase in the number of teens with mental disorders may be due to social media and cell phones. At Edison Intermediate School (EIS), we are trying to combat this issue by raising awareness and providing solutions for students. Eighth-grade guidance counselor Lori Bercovicz told us that, “…bringing in these speakers really helps us. It brings us a different perspective on teen mental health.” 

Throughout this school year, we have invited and are inviting various speakers into our school, including Sean Foley. There are more lectures to come, like Screenagers: Next Chapter on January 23rd, Ask the Experts: A Panel Discussion on February 11th, and Dr. Mykee Fowlin on March 10th. All of these speakers have one thing in common: the discussion of phones and mental awareness. We interviewed multiple teens on this topic, and all of them agreed that the first speaker coming into our school spread awareness. Some of them recommended placing restrictions on our phones so that we become more conscious of overusing our phones. Seventh-grader David Kaplan said, “Putting restrictions on our phones can help. I processed and understood [the lecture]. The only anxiety that I have on my phone is anticipating certain messages.”  

These speeches affect student’s lives, and even though it may not seem like phones are a big deal, they can affect your mental health if you are too addicted. Some kids use about 7-10 hours of screen time a day, which is not acceptable. Parents have to use time limits on kid’s phones to stop them from becoming too addicted and to try to get them to interact with other humans. The school nurse Patricia Kelly reported, “My daughters are always connected to their phones. It’s an addiction. You’re afraid you’re going to miss something. I think we need more restrictions and awareness.” 

In conclusion, many teens and adults are abusing their phone privileges to the point where they are becoming depressed without their phones. We need to watch how much screen time we are using, and we need to see that these speakers are coming into our school to help us and not to scold us about our phones. Many students and teachers agree that we need more assemblies in the future. Only you can help us stop addiction and fight for teen mental health. School Counselor Lori Bercovicz added, “As we learned from Sean Foley, who presented to our students, phones are made to addict us. They are engineered in such a way that they take our time away from having human contact. If we don’t get that human contact, we can feel sad and get these mental illnesses.”