The Student News Site of Redwood High School

Redwood Bark

Redwood Bark

Redwood Bark

Twelve seniors were presented with awards to recognize their commitment to being outstanding high school athletes (Photo by Zoe Gister).
Redwood senior athletes recognized in new venue celebration
Charlotte LacyMay 30, 2024

On May 20, senior athletes, parents and coaches gathered at Sam’s Anchor Cafe in Tiburon to recognize and celebrate the seniors committed...

Smiling and holding their floats, seniors make the most of their lunch.
Seniors stay a-float for senior week
Hannah HerbstMay 29, 2024

On Tuesday, May 28, after a long Memorial Day Weekend and with only twelve more academic days left of school, leadership kicked off Senior...

Boys’ varsity baseball marks history with first-ever state playoff victory
Boys’ varsity baseball marks history with first-ever state playoff victory
Will ParsonsMay 29, 2024

On May 28, the Giants’ varsity baseball team took on the Carmel Padres in the first Norcal state playoff game in the program’s history. The...

Student phones: addictive by design

Illustration by Charlotte Wilson

After a long day of school and a tiring field hockey practice, I arrive home. I have a test tomorrow and a pile of homework waiting for me. 30 minutes later, I am endlessly scrolling on my phone, trapped in the pull of interacting with friends and social media. 

The worst part is that this distraction is all by design. The corporations that run the most popular social media apps purposefully make their products as addictive as possible because they profit from advertisements when users interact with their apps. The addictiveness of apps on a phone can pose a major distraction to a student, leading to decreased attention and productivity. By spending unnecessary time on their phone, students lessen the time they can devote to schoolwork. Phones can especially worsen the efficiency of students who already struggle with time management and procrastination of their work.

Phones have become more of a problem for many students, distracting them from finishing homework, studying and getting an adequate amount of sleep. This can negatively affect students’ grades, focus, energy and mental health.

In fact, The Wall Street Journal says that Facebook conducted a study on the topic of mental health and found that “32 percent of teen girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse.” Another study found that teens consistently blamed Instagram for increases in rates of anxiety and depression among their peers. In a March 2024 Bark survey, 71 percent of Redwood students said that social media affected their body image to some degree. This unsettling reality shows the immense impact social media has made on our community.

In addition, teenagers spend an average of seven hours and 22 minutes a day in front of screens, which is about 43 percent of their time spent awake in a day. Teenagers are using their phones more than they should, and in most cases, the higher a student’s screen time is, the lower their grades will be. In fact, Science Direct conducted a study showing the relationship between phone use and academic grade point average (GPA).

“Results suggest that one additional hour of phone use per day lowered current term GPA by 0.152 points on average,” according to Science Direct.

Excess amounts of time on phones can cut not only into school work time but also into one’s sleep schedule. 90 percent of Americans do not get an adequate amount of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep due to phone use before bed. REM is an essential stage of sleeping and an inadequate amount of REM sleep can result in decreased memory and learning ability. A study done by Sutter Health demonstrated that spending two or more hours on your phone can disrupt the melatonin needed to help you fall asleep. This sleep deprivation takes a huge toll on teens’ mental health and academic performance. However, if students put their phones down an hour before bed, they could increase their hours of sleep by an hour and 45 minutes per week. 

Another issue with phones is their addictivity, which is comparable to drugs. Like drugs, phones can be abused to escape reality and can lead to withdrawal symptoms and social isolation. Phone and drug addicts both have shown decreased gray matter in the brain, which can lead to memory loss and cognitive impairment. Julie Albright, a psychology lecturer at the University of Southern California, has observed how phone use induces releases of dopamine in the brain, supporting this theory. 

“Swiping on apps is inherently rewarding due to a dopamine hit in the brain every time a new message is received. The affected area is the same pleasure center activated by cocaine and other addictive drugs.” 

Although drugs and phones have very similar effects on the brain, this is not to say being on your phone is the same as being intoxicated with drugs. However, it’s clear that something needs to change. Companies need to be held accountable because it is unethical to exploit the teenage population for economic gain. There should be laws put in place to limit the power of these companies and the psychological control they have on their users — especially teens. Making it illegal for companies to purposefully keep their users on their apps could lessen the amount of time teens waste on these apps. Efforts like this to decrease the nation’s screen time for teens can lead to overall improved mental health, sleep and grades. 

As said by family medicine doctor Mikhail Varshavski, “We can learn to use [phones] as a tool that can help us in our lives, connect better with others, perform better at work, and be more creative. We [shouldn’t] villainize this type of technology but [should instead] figure out how to use it without getting all the negative effects.” 

Phones aren’t completely negative and we can greatly benefit from them if we learn how to use them to our advantage. If we can limit the unnecessary time spent scrolling on our phones, society as a whole can see major improvements in productivity, intelligence and mental health.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Elle Wilson
Elle Wilson, Cub Reporter

Elle Wilson is a sophomore at Redwood High School and is currently a survey manager in the Non-fiction class. She enjoys running and spending time with her friends and family.