A Tale of Tweens, Teens and Technology Addiction

By alesram


Did you know?

That 92% of teens report going online daily- including 24% who say they go online “almost constantly”. More than half (56%) of teens defined in this report as those ages 13-17 go online several times a day, and 12% report once-a-day use. Just 6% report going online weekly and 2% go online less often. www.pewinternet.org 2015

Tweens (pre-teens) and teens of today are being born into the technological age where the computer coupled with the Internet and mobile phones have become super information highways that are fast becoming substitutes for parenting, personal interaction, socializing and learning. My daily encounters always incorporate seeing teens on the train or bus perusing their phones constantly either alone or in groups. Most of the time these teens are on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram where one can write headlines and post statuses with pictures. Obviously this happens at home as well, and most parents have come to accept this as the norm. But how normal is this norm? How normal is technology addiction? Technology is not overall bad; it is the overuse of technology that makes it bad for not only our tweens and teens but also everyone.

According to Larry Diamond, “Digital ICT has some exciting advantages over earlier technologies. The Internets’ decentralized character and ability (along with mobile-phone networks) to reach large numbers of people very quickly..” (Liberation Technology).

Based on the statement above, technology has evolved immeasurably since the 2000s. Earlier technology gains included computer labs, phone booths and landline telephones amongst others. In the earlier days one would visit the library or schools to use the computer lab, but today, this is now an option. Likewise, phone booths and landlines have been phased out with the invention of mobile phones, which have become easily accessible. As a result, many children (tweens/teens) seldom ask for permission to go play outside or to a friend’s house. Instead they are given smart phones with a wide variety of Apps, games and social media and they ask for permission to have a Facebook or Instagram account.

Consequences of Technology Abuse by Tweens and Teens



  • Technology Abuse disrupts teenage learning

Technology has impeded our tweens and teens ability to think critically and be original in their ideas. For example, when faced with homework and assignments teens immediately go to the Internet to look for ready-made answers instead of researching information to stimulate their thoughts. This dependency on readily available information has created a new breed of what appears to be “lazy-thinking individuals” who tend to be intelligent outwardly but lack depth inwardly. There seems to be no attempt to think creatively, thus stimulating their cognition levels. Therefore it is not surprising that this teenage generation rely solely on “Google” to look up answers to simple questions such as “who is the 30th President of the United States?” We really should be looking among the tween/teens for future leaders who are strong-minded individuals capable of making wise decisions.

  • Technology Abuse is characterized as addiction

Jennifer Soong in her WebMD feature on “the Paradox of Modern Life” cites Healey (2009) who states that Internet Addiction can be explained as a psychological dependency that results from habitual or compulsive Internet use. Soong points out that even though Internet addiction is not yet recognized as a formal diagnosis, reports suggest that it is responsible, among other things for rearing a generation of impulsive individuals who are unable to concentrate – that is, it is negatively impacting their education, work and personal relationships. Meanwhile, it is Healey (2009)’s article in the Los Angeles Times entitled “Internet Addiction: a 21st century epidemic with some more at risk than others” that highlights the essential use of technology which is nearly escapable. Therefore Healey suggests protecting insatiably curious and eager to experiment learners since this addiction is a serious concern in this age of information.

  • Technology Abuse fosters poor social skills

In the teen link, kburt24 of Houston, Texas in writing about the question of  whether technology is hurting or helping social skills states that some technology can be useful for some interactions. It is stated that some kids allow the Internet to take control of their social lives and slowly, their willingness and ability to socialize face-to-face is decreasing. It is further stated that there is now a debate on this topic and researchers are worried that kids might be missing the importance of social cues and the ability to socialize without coming off as being considered socially awkward. This notion of being socially awkward is supported by Brown (2013) whose analysis shows that in the revised version of the DSM a new category of psychiatric disorder called “internet addiction disorder” has been proposed, thus highlighting the negative use of internet use. Brown (2013) cites a Professor of Communications at Alma College who reports that in the last five years there has been “erosion in students’ ability to focus and even their ability to engage in face-to-face interaction” (pp., 2-3). It is Wiesen (2014) in her Science learning article who states that some child development experts report that children who spend excessive time in front of screens are not developing the social skills they need to effectively handle interpersonal relationships.

In order to prevent technology abuse, I believe that everyone should be involved in this new developing phenomenon i.e. parents, teachers, children and schools. Parents need to become more tech-savvy and stop making excuses for their lack of computer skills; this will enable them to be more vigilant in their children’s technology use/overuse. Whether they are single parents or not this issue must be taken seriously and common goals should be expressed and implemented. Parents, set limits and boundaries on cell phone usage, set age limits for when your children can get cellphones, utilize time limits and even suggest getting a part-time job for of age children. In addition, schools and teachers can work hand-in-hand; stricter cellphone usage guidelines in schools should be monitored and there should be guidance in the use of “when” and “how” cellphones are used during school hours. Allocation of time should be organized that students are given ample opportunity for social interaction and discussions. This would aid in fostering the enriching learning environment needed by our tween and teens.




Brown, C. (2013). Digital Commons. Retrieved December 7th, 2015, from www.digitalcommons.com: http://digitalcommons.conncoll.edu/psychhp/40


kburt94. (n.d.). teenink. Retrieved December 7th, 2015, from www.teenink.com: http://www.teenink.com/opinion/current_events_politics/article/162125


Lenhart, A. (2015, april 9th). www.pewinternet.org. Retrieved December 7th, 2015, from www.pewinternet.org: http://www.pewinternet.org


M, H. (2009, October 5). LA Times. Retrieved December 7th, 2015, from www.latimes.com: http://latimesblog.latimes.com/booster_shots/2009/10/internet-addiction-a-21st-century-epidemic.html


Soong, J. (2005). WebMD LLC. Retrieved December 7th, 2015, from www.webmd.com: http://www.webmd.com


Wiesen, N. (2014, April 15). Science Learning. Retrieved December 7th, 2015, from www.scilearn.com: http://blog/social-skills-digital-age-screen-time




Baccalaureate, Beginnings and Burnout

By alesram

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Confucius


I used to believe in the quote above until I graduated from college and struggled to find a job in my field of study. I had it all planned out in my head as follows: graduate from college, obtain a job in my chosen field, start saving for continued studies and enjoy my job, because I’m going to be doing what I loved. What an oversight this was in my journey. Firstly, I spent quite a lot of money to obtain certification to teach in New York City. Then I sent out lots of resumes and attended several interviews for teaching positions, only to hear the same phrase over and over again, “you need experience.” I was so disappointed and discouraged that I started applying elsewhere. Eventually, I was able to secure a teaching job and even though my ego was so deflated, I anticipated a great turn of events from this opportunity. I embraced this job, worked long hours, wrote lesson plans excellently, and organized occasional field trips for my classes because I believed that teaching should not be unilateral. I loved my job and seeing the children learn encouraged me to work even harder and longer hours. Unfortunately my dedication went unnoticed and I began to feel unappreciated. My paycheck remained the same for months with no consideration for increase. I felt extremely stressed from the increasing class sessions. Indeed, my new beginning ended faster than I envisioned for after a few years I decided to quit teaching because of burnout feelings. At this point, I reflected on the following:

“My life is bitter as wormwood; the very life is burning out of me. I’m a poor, miserable, forlorn drudge…. What’s the use of trying to do anything, trying to know anything, trying to be anything? What’s the use of living? I wish I was dead!”

(Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin).


Nauratil (2001) gives several definitions of burnout as seen by psychiatrists and researchers in “The Alienated Librarian” but the one that resonates with me the most states that “ other researchers focus on burnout as a process rather than an end state, viewing it as ‘a progressive loss of idealism, energy and purpose experienced by people in the helping professions as a result of their conditions of work” (p. 2). Thus, reading this definition really gave me a clearer picture of my burnout feelings. I realized that I had my own ideas about being a teacher and when I was given the opportunity to teach my enthusiasm and energy was driven by my purpose to impart knowledge and educate young minds. I soon lost my passion and desire to teach, all because of the horrible conditions of my work environment. I had chosen a job that I loved and enjoyed working diligently every day, sometimes without lunch breaks. Yet, I was never recognized nor given any recognition for my efforts inside and outside of the classroom. This undisputable treatment made me feel resentful with a dwindling passion for teaching. Feelings of being overwhelmed and confused resulted in my frequent experiences of headaches, colds and chronic fatigue. Many individuals in the work force can share these same experiences, but not many persons can identify or recognize “burnout.” I had no idea of what I was experiencing at that time, for it was only after I left teaching that I learned of the “burnout phenomenon”.

My recent reading of Graham Greene’s 1961 novel, titled “A Burnt-out Case” describes the main character Querry who quits his job and withdraws into the African jungle because of his being psychologically and spiritually disillusioned. First of all this novel shows just how long burnout has been an issue in society; and secondly it gives the reader an insight into one of the many reasons why many professionals choose to use fear so as to “cope” with burnout. However, it is this fear of circumstances like poverty that keeps many professionals in their vocations. Also, the fear of failure that makes them continue to work harder; fear of loss that makes them accept emotional pressures and end up with depression. This statement expresses a very familiar feeling that is experienced and uttered by many professionals in society today, Graham Greene points out that“ A vocation is an act of love: it is not a professional career. When desire is dead one cannot continue to make love. I’ve come to the end of desire and the end of a vocation” (p. 57).

Many professionals complain daily about their jobs ranging from compulsion to prove oneself, to depersonalization, and to withdrawal. Librarians, teachers, customer service representatives, social workers, counselors, psychiatrists and many other human services professionals tend to become tired of their “calling” or urge to follow a specific career and eventually end their careers even though work and survival are interrelated. It is known that one needs to work in order to survive, sustain and grow, while making a meaningful contribution to society. However, it can also be said that when this codependence breaks down, individuals tend to compensate by accepting their situations in order to remain employable. At the same time it is motivation that keeps them focussed on achieving their goals. Findings of the Society for Human Resource Management show that they believe employers are able to get the best possible talent if they follow what motivates employees. They state that being able to use personal skills was ranked highly in what creates job satisfaction. Therefore, employers should make this a priority so that their employees are able to use their skills and abilities to the fullest. (2009 “Employee Job Satisfaction”). This will give the employees the opportunity to feel that they are valued, as well as being used to their fullest potential and will motivate them to do their best since they are working in their professional area.



“2009 Employee Job Satisfaction: Understanding the Factors That Make Work Gratifying.” Society for Human Resource Management (2009): 6-17. Web. 14 Feb. 2012.


Greene, G. (1961), A Burnt-out Case, Penguin Group, New York.


Maslach, C., Schauteil, W.B & Leiter, M.P. (2001), Job Burnout, Annual Review Psychology pp. 52. 397-422.


Nauratil, M. J. (1989), The Alienated Librarian, Greenwood Press Inc. New York.



Shh!!! Quiet Please! Social Exclusion Area!

By alesram

Pop Quiz!

True or False

 1. 57% of NYC homeless shelter residents are NOT African American. True or False.

2. The number of homeless New Yorkers sleeping each night in municipal shelters is now 78% higher than it was ten years ago. True or False.

3. Most people who have no income will NOT move in to city shelters. True or False.


Adapted from www.theguardian.com

BROOKLYN- I sight the large stone building on my aimless walks along the street. Its vastness and architecture seem to pull me close as I pass by daily, so finally I decided to venture inside. I looked up and saw the words “Brooklyn Public Library” sprawled across the top of the wide revolving doors and immediately I felt the need to enter and satisfy my curiosity. I held my bags with all my worldly possessions tightly as I attempted to brush the wrinkles out of my crushed clothes.

I looked around and saw others going in and out as I followed even though apprehension and fear gripped me under the arms and took over momentarily. I knew I was out of place as I looked at the people around me; no one else had three big bags, wrinkled clothes and messy hair. I looked myself over one last time in the glass doors as I hurriedly created a messy updo hairstyle and tried to perfect my best false smile. I stepped inside and the familiar environment calmed my nerves – except for a few puzzled glances for no one focused on me intently. I made eye contact with the librarian sitting at the front desk. She too had a quizzical expression on her face as her gaze followed me to my seat.

I placed my belongings all around me and as I started to shuffle through them to keep up my inconspicuous act, she started walking my way. My heart weighed heavily on my chest and my head started swimming with possible excuses and explanations. From my peripheral view her seersucker two-piece suit and bone straight hair personified rigidity and unkindness. She stopped at my table; her pursed lips and folded arms intimidated me while her piercing eyes judged me from head to toe.

No one chooses to become socially excluded instead society is the pedant for placing people into certain categories and stereotypes. As humans we strive to “belong” and “fit in” to society’s’ many classes and structures. But what happens when one falls short of theses groups? Do they get regrouped? According to Cronin, in John Gehner’s article, “Libraries, Low-Income People and Social Exclusion” apparently you do, hence his inclusion of latch-key children into the same group as the poor, the low-income, the masturbators, the homeless and the porn watchers.

 A library is not a community masturbation center. A library is not a porn parlor. A library is not a refuge for the homeless. A library is not a place in which to defecate, fornicate or micturate. A library is not a bathing facility. A library is not a dumping ground for latch-key children. (Cronin, 2002, p.39)

Libraries exist to serve the public whether or not a person is homeless, jobless, poor or unattended. A library is not a place to generalize people. A library is not a place to breech people’s civil rights. A library is not a place to put up institutional barriers. A library is not a place to exercise social exclusion. A library is not a place to practice discrimination. And the list of what a library should not be can continue (positive or negative) for pages and pages but lets stop and think about how we can structure libraries to be more “inclusive” of everyone. Because it’s when we start to exclude people that they become offensive and so do their actions.

Gehner attempts to suggest how libraries can improve their services to reduce those persons who are considered being the socially excluded. He points out that those who are considered ‘poor’ very often carry with them their belongings wherever they go, for example, to the library. At the same time, challenges and opportunities for these poor people differ from ‘state to state, from urban to metropolitan to rural’ and that is why every librarian should use their local knowledge to imitate meaningful changes. (See abstract above)

In his article, John Gehner proposed five actions for engaging low-income people. While I agree with all five points only two will be discussed further.

Action 2: Focus on the causes of social exclusion, not just symptoms.

In other words, “What is the root cause of this condition?” Gehner cites Bonnie Lewis who posits, “social exclusion is not simply a result of ‘bad luck’ or personal inadequacies, but rather of flaws in the system that create disadvantages for certain segments of the population….” (p. 42) Right now libraries are facing limited or diminishing funding so fees and fines represent alternative revenue. This places a burden on librarians and users, so much so that low-income users are subtly denied library access. Fees and fines signify for low-income, jobless and homeless patrons that they will never get the opportunity to overcome their situations since they struggle everyday to survive.

Action 3: Remove barriers that alienate socially excluded groups.

‘Breaking barriers’ describes a variety of factors that intimidate, alienate and otherwise discourage socially excluded segments of the community. They are subtle and insidious, and are ingrained in library culture.” (p. 43) This shows that teens find that libraries are too restrictive while immigrants and refugees confront an: ‘institutional culture….’ E.g. they cannot visit and socialize to which they have been accustomed. Gehner states that how we interact one-on-one with new patrons can make a profound difference. For example, “ do you offer a welcoming orientation or a bureaucratic exchange?” I want to think that, most libraries do not always foster a welcoming atmosphere for patrons. For individuals who would normally visit the library it is sometimes hard to get the librarians attention. Therefore when less fortunate individuals enter the library’s atmosphere tends to overwhelm them.

Engaging low-income people, jobless individuals and the homeless into the library structure is achievable following Gehner’s five proposed actions along with a librarians’ willingness to accommodate institutional changes.


Brooklyn Public Library. (2015), Grand Army Plaza. 10 Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn, NY 11238.


Coalition for the Homeless. (2015), The Catastrophe of Homelessness. Retrieved from http://www.coalitionforthehomelsee.org


Gehner, J. (2010), Libraries, Low-Income People and Social Exclusion, Public Quarterly, 29:1, 39-47.







Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons
Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License

WordPress theme based on Esquire by Matthew Buchanan.