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Guest commentary: Why are teens on their phones so much? In many ways, we have to be

Sophia Benito
(Provided by Sophia Benito)

Sophia Benito is a junior at La Jolla High School and an editor for the school newspaper, the Hi-Tide. She is writing a periodic column this school year about happenings at her school and what’s on the minds of herself and other local students.

Every teen, myself included, has heard that we need to cease our constant cellphone use. Why is that so when our lives revolve around technology in multiple aspects, both socially and academically?

Most adults fail to understand the dependence that we, as students, have on technology. The majority of our school assignments are submitted and posted online, our tests and quizzes are often surveilled digitally through websites such as Canvas, and our grades are updated online through Powerschool. With six classes each day, my screen time during the day often exceeds eight hours.

There are benefits that come with school being technologically centered. It makes managing classes and coursework more efficient and easier to handle. I can check an app on my phone the second an assignment is graded or posted and have greater control over my academic success.

The foremost drawback of this “academic control” is the anxiety that follows. Ultimately, the exact percentage of a grade now holds more weight. There is a noticeable difference between 90.35 percent and 95.46 percent. Both are A’s, recorded the same on a high school transcript, and excellent grades, though one is on the verge of falling into B territory. An average grade on a lab or test can significantly affect this percentage and lead to floods of emails to teachers’ mailboxes. The disparity between 96.5 percent and 97 percent seems significant.

Social media has profound effects on our lives as well. During the COVID-19 outbreak, social media was especially utilized for social interaction and keeping in touch when we could not be in person. It was used to promote school club activity and spread information about upcoming meetings. It helped me be more involved in my school during my freshman year online. I was able to easily find clubs that I enjoyed and am still active in.

There are, of course, drawbacks to online communication, mainly occurring through social media. Social media is not an accurate representation of what is happening in reality; it is skewed. We see what others intend for us to see, and there is pressure to fit in socially online — especially during the height of the pandemic.

All in all, our reliance on technology stems from both school and social interaction. We have a dependence on the internet and online communication for our day-to-day life. Its impact is both positive and negative.

Sophia Benito lives in the Muirlands West area of La Jolla. Her family has lived in La Jolla since the 1950s. Sophia is interested in journalism as her future profession and occasionally writes for online teen publications.