School of Arts and Humanities / School of Medical and Health Sciences
The public sphere includes a range of credible discourses asserting that a proportion of teenagers (“teens”) has an unhealthy dependence upon continuous connection with media devices, and especially smartphones. A review of media discourse (Jaunzems et al.) in Australia, and a critical review of public discourse in Australia and Belgium (Zaman et al.), reveal both positive and negative commentary around screentime. Despite the “emotionally laden, opposing views” expressed in the media, there appears to be a groundswell of concern around young people’s dependence upon digital devices (Zaman et al. 120). Concerns about ‘addiction’ to and dependency on digital media first emerged with the Internet and have been continually represented as technology evolves. One recent example is the 2020 multi-part Massey Lecture series which hooked audiences with the provocative title: “we need to reclaim our lives from our phones” (Deibert). In Sydney, a psychology-based “outpatient addiction treatment centre” offers specialised recovery programs for “Internet addiction”, noting that addicts include school-aged teens, as well as adults (Cabin). Such discourse reflects well-established social anxieties around the disruptive impacts of new technologies upon society (Marvin), while focussing such concern disproportionately upon the lives, priorities, and activities of young people (Tsaliki and Chronaki).
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Green, L., Dudek, D., Cohen, L., Ólafsson, K., Staksrud, E., Jacques, C. L., & Jaunzems, K. (2022). Tox and Detox. Are teens’ smartphone use and non-use practices fully fungible?. M/C, 25(2). https://doi.org/10.5204/mcj.2888