Editors note: This is part two of a two-part series

In part one of this two-part series it was made obvious that our society has a screen addiction. If this is not true then why are Apple and Android device makers are now offering new apps to help monitor digital usage. 

Tom Kersting, author of the book Disconnected goes even deeper in screen addiction and how it is affecting our society, especially among children.

According to Kersting, teenagers are addicted, more than adults, to social media and screen time. He believes that parents must monitor and restrict usage especially since an average child getting a smart phone is a fifth grader.

Kersting also says that a new study ties Facebook use to depression and that the suicide rate has increased 70 percent since 2006 among teenagers all because of social media.

Sean Parker, a former Facebook executive, admits that Facebook was designed to be addictive.

Very seldom do you see kids outside in the neighborhood, even on a beautiful day. In the past, they would play a friendly game of football or basketball with other neighborhood kids. They would often visit with each other, building relationships; not any more, outdoor kids now stay indoors and have become reclusive.

In most cases a family with no children can go months and not even realize that their neighbors have children. Why? Because kids today would rather stay indoors with their faces focused on a cell phone, tablet, computer or gaming screen.

A few of the warning signs that Kersting points out in his book about kids being disconnected are, they had prefer to spend time using electronics rather than being with friends or family, they have a loss of interest in other activities and they sneak around to view a screen then lie about it.

How bad is this disconnect in our society? The Kaiser Family Foundation released an updated study in 2008 about children and their use of television, computers, video games and music devices.

The study revealed on television alone 50 percent of eleven to fourteen-year-olds had no television watching rules. Seventy-five percent of fifteen to eighteen-year-olds had no television watching rules. By the age of eighteen, the average adolescent will have seen 200,000 acts of violence on television.

It was revealed that sixty-two percent of kids claimed that they lie to their parents about what they look at on the web and seventy-five percent of seventh to twelfth graders had created a profile on a social media site.

How about video games? Fifty-two percent of all video games played were played on handheld devices. What’s really alarming is that twenty-five percent of eight to ten-year-olds played violent video games, sixty percent of eleven to fourteen-year-olds played violent video games and seventy-two percent of fifteen to eighteen-year-olds played violent video games.

Music devices were the second most popular media activity among eight to eighteen-year-olds. Fifteen to eighteen-year-olds spent over three hours per day listening to music.

This study concluded that by age twenty-one this generation will have played more than 10,000 hours of video games, sent and received 250,000 emails and text, spent 10,000 hours on phones, watched more than 10,000 hours of television and seen more than 500,000 commercials.

During a podcast interview with Meeker Parenting Kersting offered several things that parents can do to help save their children from screen addiction and disconnection.

First, parents need to parent up – regulate screen time. They should also monitor screen time. Practice time out again – take their device away for a period of time. Also on the list was, learn to say no to your children. If necessary, allow screen time only on the weekends. 

Kersting will be speaking in person at First Baptist Church Henderson on Sunday, Sept. 8 at 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. where he will be talking about this issue of disconnection. The Church is located on West Main downtown Henderson.

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