Composition 300, Colorado State University

Drafts

Alphabetic Argument – Draft

Cell Phones, Internet Usage, and Psychiatric Medication: What does this mean for our children?

During the years of childhood, a great deal of development occurs from growth spurts in height, to shedding shoe sizes, and even the size of a child’s vocabulary. In today’s society, we put a great deal of emphasis on learning and being a member of society, but with new advancements that are distinct and unique to modern society, new opportunities, and challenges await our young people. Although physical health gains a lot of media and political attention, with P.E. programs in our schools and extracurricular sporting activities, what gains less attention are the “secret” issues of the minds of our young people and their psychological development. Two areas where this is emerging as a potential problem for our young people are in the use of new digital technologies, and the extensive use of medications for mental ailments.

It has been only about ten years since modern cellular technology started to take hold in the general population at large. In 2010 however, it has been projected that over five billion of our world’s inhabitants will be carrying a cell phone (Physorg.com, 2010). With the advent of the smartphone, telephones moved away from their primary purpose to be to have a vocal conversation with someone for a purpose, or because of distance, but instead to recreation. Modern telephones now have the ability to take photographs, share events, receive email, entertain, and communicate via voice and textual conversations. With all of these helpful services, it didn’t take long for cell phones to gain popularity amongst the general population, and their children. With cell phones in the hands of children, parents are able to keep tabs on their kids easier while they are at a friend’s house, to find out if they need to be picked up after school, or to provide entertainment on a car ride. Although there are many safe, helpful uses for cell phones in the hands of children, as theGreenwich Citizen points out, much potential harm can also arise (McGarty Webb, 2010). One potential effect of radio technology that has been pointed out over and over again is the effect of radiation from phones on the human body. Literature appears to be more or less inconclusive for whether or not this radiation is harmful, and if it is, in what ways. Continued exposure to cell phones over a long period of time has been shown to have an effect on health, especially reproductive health. Cell phones open the door to communicating using a wide variety of mediums to anyone around the world almost instantly. Child predators can find their way to talk to children with relatively no moderation or restriction, and children are able to easily make their way around fail-safes put in place by parents to access whatever content they intend to.

Another technology that has taken the place of voice conversation on cell phones is the use of the internet. Many children today grow up with internet access readily available in their households, and the ability to have their own email address, Facebook profile, and YouTube favorites list. The internet can be very helpful for the mental development of children, especially in education and research, and also in socializing with their peers. In a 2002 article, the pros and cons of internet usage amongst young people were already starting to become apparent where researchers outlined that internet usage can have both physical and mental effects. Physically, computer usage helps with eye hand coordination, but can also lead to fatigue and an unhealthy lifestyle. Also, mentally computer usage can facilitate social interaction and improve problem solving abilities, but it can also change the way children think (Verdick.org, 2002). With more time spent in a virtual world, it has been shown that children have a harder time discerning between what is real and what is fake. They also tend to develop a more casual manner of writing (which seems to be more apparent now than ever with “text-speak”), which translates into different realms, including academics. In a recent study, it was found that 36.7% of those children studied showed signs of problematic internet usage including poor coping skills and interpersonal relationships (Milani, Osualdella & Di Blasio, 2009). Social networking websites also have the ability to overtake actual social interactions, potentially resulting in problematic internet usage to go higher. According to Facebook’s internal statistics, there are currenty over 500 million active users who spend over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook. That means for an average of 1400 minutes for every user per month, or just over 45 minutes per day on average (Facebook, 2010). Although Facebook caters primarily to adult and teen users, children also have the ability to get accounts on social networking sites such as Facebook, or social websites such as Webkinz.com, which melds online social networking, online gaming, and physical furry pets together.

With skyrocketing internet and cellphone usage amongst children, reported mental disorders and the prescription of medications is also going up at a seemingly exponential rate. With nearly 20 percent of office visits (in 2002) being reported by the Center of Disease Control and Prevention to be for psychosocial issues, psychological issues are becoming as common, or more common, than many other physical health issues among children. Between 1991 and 2000, prescriptions for these medications rose 500%, and in 2002, included some 10.8 million prescriptions for psychiatric medications (Roberts, 2006). Roberts and other psychologists have cited that medicating children can be very beneficial for a number of reasons, but not necessarily for the child’s wellbeing. Although parents might be able to have their child calm and in control after a single, short psychological assessment, the child and parents do not necessarily learn anything from being medicated. Medication also allows for schools in some areas to receive more funding, says Roberts, and only the child in the situation loses.

Instead of medication, there are many very helpful alternatives in many cases to help children’s wellbeing. Counseling is an often overlooked or underappreciated method that has been shown to be very helpful with a number of children with different psychosocial issues. One beneficial attribute about counseling, apart from the lack of negative side-effects pertaining to chemical medications, is that the parents can also be targeted and be made into more effective parents, as their child is being made into a healthier person. In a New York Times video article, parents and their children who had psychosocial difficulties were interviewed. It was shown that counseling could be a very effective, and healthy alternative to medication, and that targeted medicating could be paired with counseling practices to be very effective for children with fewer side effects (New York Times, 2010).

In the present day, we tend to rely on increasingly modern technology for our communications, health, transportation, and even to raise our children. For many years, television has been one method of entertaining our children, but it was limited in its ability to engulf their life. Today, cell phones and computers allow children to become more connected to technology than ever before. Although there are many benefits to digital technology usage, it can easily become a substitute for adequate parenting, and can also open the doors of mental health issues and child predators to our young ones. Where digital technologies can become a crutch for parents in regards to raising their children with a healthy mental standing, medications can be a window for parents to open when their children are having psychosocial difficulties. Although these medications can be incredibly effective and seemingly harmless, they can be much more safely substituted for what has been used for years: genuine love and caring, and good parenting on behalf of a mother and father.

Where arranging a major event or talking to a friend living on the other side of the country is but a click (or finger tap) away, it can be easy to let technological advancements take hold of every aspect in our lives, including our children. Just as it might be easy to forget how dangerous text messaging while driving is until you have harmed yourself or someone else, it can also be easy to forget how dangerous taking the easy way out can be in regards to our children. Modern technology is just that, modern. After over a century of driving automobiles, we still have not perfected their safety, and likewise, we have not perfected the safety of modern devices and medications. Although not perfect, there is no substitute for good parenting and healthy living. Modern technology might help us achieve those ends, but if high-tech becomes the end, what then are the means?

 

Annotated Bibliography – Draft

Section by Greg Foley

  • Marbin Miller, C, & Caputo, M. (2010, April 30). Effort to protect children from overmedication fails. Retrieved from http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/04/30/1605341/effort-to-protect-children-from.html
    • Summary
      • The Miami Herald writes about a bill that was on the docket in Florida that did not pass, which aimed to reduce overmedication of children, especially in relation to psychiatric medications. Politicians on both sides of the aisle fought for, and against, the bill which some politicians wouldn’t even hear and said that regulation was not necessary in these areas. This comes after several children have died due to over medication.
    • Reflection
      • I felt that this article fit very well with my topic and what we’re looking at. It is a great example of how society today views medication, and how those we have elected view it as well. In the article, it also mentions medication being used as a method of controlling behavior, which is exactly what it is. By altering the mental state of the child physiologically, the child can be more easily controlled and present fewer behavioral difficulties to the parents. However, although better behaved, complications can arise from these medications including threats of suicide
  • McGarty Webb, M. (2010, November 10). Kids and cell phones: is it right? if so, when and how?. Retrieved from http://www.greenwichcitizen.com/news/article/Kids-and-cell-phones-Is-it-right-If-so-when-807149.php
    • Summary
      • This article from the Greenwich Citizen speaks to the prevalence of cell phone usage among young children. It examines both sides of the fence on cell phone usage, interviewing parents and children who both have cell phones, and have limits on cell phone usage. Where some parents see it as a convenience to let their kids have the phones, others see it as something that they are able to have because they are more mature or that all the other kids have them. It also speaks to the immense cell phone usage an texting trend that is going on amongst young people
    • Reflection
      • This article is very good at highlighting both the pros, and cons of cell phone usage and doing this through first hand experience. The article speaks to the dangers of cell phones and the ability for them to be misused, especially by young children, but that there are multiple ways to approach the usage and regulate against misuse.
  • Milani, L., Osualdella, D., & Di Blasio, P. (2009). Quality of interpersonal relationships and problematic Internet use in adolescence. CyberPsychology & Behavior12(6), 681-684.
    • Summary
      • Authors of this study investigated the correlations between internet usage and usage with interpersonal relationships and coping strategies in Italy. It was found that 36.7% of participants in the study showed signs of problematic internet usage including poor coping skills and interpersonal relationships.
    • Reflection
      • Although a foreign study, I feel that this article really shows how children today are becoming addicted and reliant on the internet, and how that is having an effect on their lives. Also, being a recent study, it reflects back well what modern adolescents are dealing with on the internet with modern technology and websites. Using a scientific approach with several scales also helps to look at many different factors giving insight into this area.
  • Physorg.com. (2010, February 15). Five billion people to use phones in 2010. Retrieved from http://www.physorg.com/news185467439.html
    • Summary
      • Over five billion people are expected to be using cellular telephones by the end of 2010 says the International Telecommunications Union. This is especially seen as an increase in areas of developing nations where cell phones can provide help with medications and banking, in addition to the recreational and convenience aspects.
    • Reflection
      • This article does not highlight the doom-and-gloom of cell usage, but instead presents the numbers as rising very rapidly, not only in Western nations, but around the world. With vastly increasing numbers of cell phones in the hands of adults, this means that they will also increase in the hands of children in other areas, just as they did in Western countries. Cell phones are quickly becoming a useful tool for people of all walks of life in many different situations globally.
  • Roberts, E.J. (2006, October 8). A rush to medicate young minds. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/06/AR2006100601391.html
    • Summary
      • Written by a child & adolescent psychiatrist, A Rush to Medicate Young Minds speaks to the overwhelming increase of the diagnosis and treatment of childhood psychiatric conditions. The author talks about how these issues have become overwhelmingly prevalent over the recent years and how, although diagnostic techniques have improved, it is often easier to tell parents that their child has a mental disability and prescribe drugs rather than get them to change their parenting techniques.
    • Reflection
      • I feel that this article is very relevant to the audience we are targeting and the points that we would like to get across. Oftentimes, prescribing medication might be the easiest route, but also a dangerous route that shouldn’t be preferred. Instead of improving parenting skills to improve their children, parents seem to be moving to seeking outside quick-fix helps, which in this society is becoming more common with everything (i.e., get-rich-quick schemes, quick-fix dieting, online schooling, etc.)
  • Child development and the internet. (2002). Retrieved from http://www.verdick.org/child-development-and-the-internet
    • Summary:
      • Offering points on both the positive and negative effects of internet usage on children, this study looks at how the internet effects the person physically, mentally, and socially. Positively, the internet is able to improve children’s physical motor control and eye-hand coordination abilities. It is also able to improve problem solving capabilities and give information to children in an easy manner. Likewise, it can facilitate healthy social interaction as well. On the other side of the coin, virtual manipulation does not have the same effect as physical manipulation of objects and informational fatigue can set in. Also, children have a harder time discerning between what is real and false and writing becomes more casual rather than academic. Socially there can also be consequences with less time being spent in interactions with others and negative interactions with content such as pornography.
    • Reflection
      • I thought that this was a great, brief, blog article. It offered good sources on both sides for internet usage and provided the reader with the information needed to recognize arguments for both sides and defend either / or. This article fits very well with this study as it shows how the internet can be used for great benefit, or to great detriment.

Research Narrative – Draft

Section by Greg Foley

[Introduction]

Background music playing with either sounds of children in the background, or a video of children playing on a playground.

Childhood is a time for human beings to develop in many ways, from physical growth resulting in new shoes and shirts, to intellectual and psychological growth as well. Where changes in technology have occurred throughout history, this has been greatly accelerated in recent years, especially in medicine and communications.

[Medicine]

If video, show pictures related to cell phone use or internet usage when appropriate.

Medical advancements have helped people of the present generation stay alive longer and lead lives with less physical suffering in years past. One area of great medical advancements is that of psychiatry. Although psychiatric medication can be very useful when physiological impairments are present, in recent years, many more doctors are prescribing medications to young people for behavioral and attention disorders than ever before.

Written by a child psychiatrist for the Washington Post, the article A Rush to Medicate Young Minds speaks to the overmedication of our nation’s young people and children. Although diagnostic techniques have improved vastly over recent years, the author also speaks to the issue of what is easier to do: to have the parents change their parenting techniques and have that conversation with them, or to prescribe strong psychiatric drugs to calm children and make their behavior more manageable.

Scenes of depression, struggle, and suicide

These medications however are not without their side-effects. Psychiatric medication can in some cases cause physical and emotional side-effects ranging from slight depression, to thoughts, and actions, of suicide. In Florida recently, a bill failed that was aimed at furthering restrictions of prescription of psychiatric drugs to children. Although supported by members on both sides of the aisle, the bill failed among statements that regulations are fine where they are. This comes even amid instances in that state of recent suicide linked to treatment with these drugs.

[Technology]

Video of people walking around with cell phones in hand

Although medicine presents great advancements in health and wellbeing, technology too can improve our lives, and hurt it drastically. In a recent study conducted by the International Telecommunications Union, it is estimated that by the end of the year 2010, over 5 billion people worldwide will have a cell phone in their hand or pocket. Although cited that cell phones are very helpful for many things, such as checking banking records or medications, they can also pose significant problems as well, especially for our children.

Picture / video of children holding cell phones

Cell phones for children can be both a blessing and a curse for children, and their parents. In an article from The Greenwich Citizen, authors highlight both the pros and cons of children having a cell phone. Although it allows children to keep in touch with their parents much more effectively, it also opens the doors to overuse and predators.

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