Fellow Oakland District High Schoolers:

Do you play videogames, use social media, watch youtube or netflix? If any of the actions stated apply then you engage in using screen time. Well, you might be wondering, why does it matter if I stare at a screen?

Based on research and data collected from surveys, Oakland district high schoolers should be careful and informed about the effects of screen time on their health. This is because they are in an time where technology with screens is abundant, they are more likely to be exposed to screens and since the people are young, in the future when they procreate, their young will be in a time of more advanced technology and the parent must make the choice to have the boy or girl meet the technology at a young age or not. 

Firstly, the high schoolers of today are more susceptible to encounter and possess technology with screens, such as a computer because they were born in a world where technology was being revolutionized. In the database, “Quick facts Oakland city, California” which provides statistics on states and counties, and for cities and towns with a population of 5,000 or more by the U.S Census Bureau. The site displays information on Oakland like, “Households with a computer, percent, 2014-2018 : 90%” (U.S Census Bureau). Since the city of Oakland has an overwhelming majority of households with computers it shows that it is very likely when growing up the Oakland District High schoolers were having access to computers at relatively young ages compared to others born earlier. Why does it matter if I have access to a computer, it can’t have any negative effects on my health right? WRONG! There are a lot of misconceptions on the use of technology with screens, both benign and malignant. Sylvia Pellicore, a medical student from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill answered a question online in 2017 about a person who is concerned their long term screen usage can cause blindness. The medical student assures, “Blind you? No. Can it cause eyestrain? Yes.” (Pellicore). They then provide information on possible eye problems like computer vision syndrome with a reference to another article. Just because long term screen time can not cause blindness, does not mean it can’t affect your health, as briefly mentioned earlier, computer vision syndrome (CVS) can occur and you may experience symptoms. In the 2019 article, What is Computer Vision Syndrome by WebMD about what CVS is and its symptoms/causes. The article talks about what the symptoms are and states, “There’s no proof that computer use causes any long-term damage to the eyes. But regular use can lead to eye strain and discomfort. You may notice: Blurred vision, Double vision, Dry, red eyes Eye irritation Headaches Neck or back pain” (WebMD). The multitude of symptoms associated with screen time leads to many people who use screens constantly to inevitably experience one or more of the symptoms of CVS or other repetitive eye motion injuries. This is why it is important to take into account the 20-20-20 rule which means to every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away, for 20 seconds. Using the rule everytime you are using screens for extended periods of time helps avoid the negative symptoms.

What about the youth? It is crucial that Oakland district high schoolers think about the future if they intend to create offspring. Screen time can drastically affect children at young ages. Screen time is a term used to describe the activity of using any sort of digital screen, this requires very little energy, in the article, Screen time and children by Neil K. Kaneshiro, a Clinical Professor of Pediatrics; they talk about how screen time affects children. The article explains, “Too much screen time can: Make it hard for your child to sleep at night, Raise your child’s risk for attention problems, anxiety, and depression, Raise your child’s risk for gaining too much weight (obesity)” (Kaneshiro). When the Oakland district high schoolers grow up they must consider the effects of screen time on their children since it can cause insomnia and even obesity because the sedimentary activity requires less energy than, for example, walking. Parents will most commonly use the screens to distract the young ones, but in the long run the child’s repetitive use of digital screens can cause mental health problems which make life for the children more difficult than it has to be. Furthermore, screen time on children under the age of one has even more catastrophic effects. In the article from The Oakland Press WHO: Infants younger than 1 shouldn’t be exposed to electronic screens by By Rachel Siegel and Craig Timberg The Washington Post; The article talks about how children age 1 and under should not use digital screens at all, it proclaims, “Experts in child development say that the acquisition of language and social skills, typically by interacting with parents and others, are among the most important cognitive tasks of childhood.” (Siegel and Timberg). Language and social skills are better gained from parent interaction with the child; Screens do not provide an effective tool to transfer these skills. Also since the parent is exposing the child to screens at an incredibly young age, they will encounter and face the previous problems talked about earlier, such as mental disorders. Keep in mind, even if you decide not to have children the effects of screen time such as obesity and mental illness are still incredibly relevant to you and could find you later in life. 

We believed that the research conducted with the Oakland community has a high reliance on screen time and are not aware of the consequences. We designed and promoted a 17 question survey about the use of technology with digital screens and impacts on health with Oaklanders. From the 25 people who took the survey the results were quite fascinating, for one 15 respondents agreed that they relied on their phone daily while 0 respondents heavily disagree that they rely on their phone everyday. Furthermore, 78% of respondents believed that long durations of screen time can cause irreparable eye damage, such as blindness. Additionally, when presented with the question on how many hours does the average American child spend in front of a screen; We procured the information that 72% of respondents chose the right answer being 5-7 hours while a concerning 12% thought the answer was 10+ hours daily!

Figure 1: Relying on Phone on a Scale from 1-5 (N=25). 25 participants of the survey were given the statement, “I rely on my phone everyday”. 15 of the respondents were on the agree side.

Figure 2: Responses for Screen Time can cause Blindness Statement (N=25). 76% of the 25 people thought screen time can cause blindness over the 24% who said the statement was false. The correct answer was that screen time can not cause blindness (False).

Figure 3: Responses for Amount of Time American Children Spend in Front of a Screen. 28% of the 25 people choose the incorrect answer compared to the 72% who chose correctly. On the other hand 12% overestimated and 16% underestimated.

Based on community data and research, I found that the respondents all rely on their phone to some extent each day, the majority of respondents believed that screen time can cause blindness (76%), the majority also knew that the average American child spends 5-7 hours in front of a digital screen (72%) . This is why there is no doubt that the Oakland community needs to be informed on the effects of screen time on their physical and mental health, as well as the effect it has on babies and young children. Measures have to also be taken in order to help control the spread of the negative health effects of looking at digital screens for long periods of time. 

Aim #1 Virtual: Inform the people of Oakland the Possible Complications with Screen Time Through Social Media Activity 

Since devices with screens are plentiful in this day, it is important to understand how they can affect us. The survey made it clear that a majority of the respondents thought that screen time could cause blindness, this misconception probably comes from a previous question where 14 people said screen time was unhealthy while 9 were impartial. If people believe screen time can cause blindness it is clear that information from credible sources must be spread in order to contradict the misconception. This will be done by using social media, more specifically Instagram. An amount will be created that has the purpose of informing the people on how screen time leads to eye injury problems such as computer vision syndrome. We will address symptoms and include suggestions that can help avoid the symptoms of eye vision problems such as the 20-20-20 rule and posture. There is no budget since the action is online and I do not intend to use money to buy ads and promote my social media page. I will post on this instagram because instagram is a popular and multi use platform where images can be posted on the account or story. There will be posts on the account once every two days since the topic of screen time is a controversial topic that could become monotonous to people who use it because all they hear is the negative effects and it can feel like they are being attacked, no one likes to be attacked. This can be counteracted by also posting the benefits of screen time as well. Another problem that could be faced is that people just won’t care and will not even find the social media account. This can be solved by using hashtags that are popular to get more attention to the posts.

Aim #2 if Shelter in Place Ends: Encourage Prevention of Ages 0-2 to have Access to Digital Screens by Providing Miniature Notebooks to Oakland District High Schoolers

New children always have potential to supersede their predecessors. However, this is not as probable if the child has a mental illness such as depression or weight problems that lead to obesity which leads to a harder childhood due to bullying and other health problems. And wouldn’t you know it, screen time in but not limited to young children has the possibility developing one of the complications above. This is why to inform the next generation we will provide miniature notebooks with information on how screen time affects children as well as adults on the first day of school during advisory. The budget for this is 3 dollars or less per notebook that will be customized and designed using some online distributor. There are a multitude of schools in the Oakland district therefore, in order to not be broke we will prioritize schools near my community of Oakland and go from there using money gained from fundraising at school. For this to come into fruition, we need permission from the school authorities to 1) fundraise  and 2) distribute the notebooks. The most common impediment expected is the fact that some of the notebooks are just going to be disposed of. To try and solve this the notebooks will be embellished and multifaceted in order to look less nondescript/monotone and more appealing making them less likely to be thrown away. We will also include blank pages in the notebook so it serves multiple purposes and can be used. Another problem that will be faced is the inevitable fact that when the high schoolers grow up, they will lose the notebook and probably forget it. This can not be solved directly when talking about my targeted audience but this does not mean the notebook will be useless, it can still provide some insight into how they should manage their own screen time. 

Aim #3 If I had no Limitations (unlimited funding and access): Protest and Take Legal Action in Order to Prevent Ages 0-2 to be Exposed to Digital Screens

The macro solution would be to take, try and enforce legal action. There would be protests influenced by celebrities to try and make people commit to not exposing their children to their digital screens at early ages. This would be effective because it would mold the next generation and hopefully carry on through time. I would first have to organize the protests in the local area in front of technology fonts like Samsung or Apple and get the approval of the celebrities to join in. The areas must be established and the news of the protests must spread to everyone, this will be done by having the celebrities post on social media about it. These protests will not only take place in Oakland, but everywhere in California in order to try and create and approve a state law that has the parents sign a contract when they buy a digital device that states they cannot allow any children 0-2 to use the digital device. The store owners and big tech companies such as Samsung and Apple being mad because of the blockage of their income would be an obstacle, but in the future hopefully they will see it was all done to cause change  and not harm to their helpful companies.

I will know that my actions were successful by looking at the social media attention through likes and follows, by seeing how many notebooks are thrown away somewhere on the school campus and to have some sort of legal document be established. Success will be measured online by likes, follows and comments. Those comments will determine the communities outlook on the help I am providing. The amount of notebooks disposed of on campus will also be a sign of success or defeat. The amount of attention the posts get and the notebooks would be quantitative data because it relates to the sheer numbers. While the quality of the comments and the legal document will be qualitative data.

Thank you for listening to what I have to say. I hope that you keep what was said in mind, this issue is very prevalent today with technology everywhere. I hope you know, you are the future and you might even create the future so be careful how you mold it. #ScreenTime # TheFuture #BeEducated #Highschoolers #Oakland 

Sincerely, Xavier Gonzalez

Work Cited

“Computer Vision Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments.” WebMD, WebMD, 17 Aug. 2019, www.webmd.com/eye-health/computer-vision-syndrome#1.

This article talks about the syndrome known as computer vision syndrome. This is caused by staring at a screen for long periods of hours. It talks about how the screen causes the eye muscles to stress out. Since the screen has contrast, flicker, and glare, it can lead to experiencing symptoms. The eyes of a human lose effectiveness in seeing long distances at around age 40 either way. The article lists symptoms and treatments/ways to prevent the problem.

Pellicore, Sylvia. “If You Work for 20 Years Staring at a Computer Screen for 8 Hours a Day, Will It Blind You in Any Way?” Quora, www.quora.com/.

This is a question asked by someone on the website Quora. The question is relating to the effect of screen time on an adults eyes and if it can cause blindness. The person who answers the question is a medical student that talks about what a lot of screen time can lead to and why. She gives suggestions on how to avoid degrading the vision worse. Such as taking an eye break to look at something far away every 20 minutes.

“Screen Time and Children: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000355.htm.

Screen time is a term used to explain any activities involving a digital screen. This is sedentary activity which involves very little energy. The average American child spends 5-7 hours on screen time. The article talks about how screen time affects the children. 

Siegel, Rachel, et al. “WHO: Infants Younger than 1 Shouldn’t Be Exposed to Electronic Screens.” The Oakland Press, 3 June 2019, www.theoaklandpress.com/lifestyles/tech/who-infants-younger-than-shouldn-t-be-exposed-to-electronic/article_a290983e-7676-11e9-aa33-5f7bdc80d4b5.html.

This article addresses the growth of screen time use over time by the new generations due to the invention of tech like the iphone. The article references many studies such that relate to child development and screen time. The article also acknowledges the other side of the argument and does not blame screen time on everything.

“U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Oakland City, California.” Census Bureau QuickFacts, www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/oaklandcitycalifornia/PST045219#.

This page includes various information on the city Oakland in California. Such as the population, housing, income, computer and internet use. For my purposes it talks about the percent of households that have their own computer in California, Oakland.

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