Special Report: Virtually Lost

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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – The average person checks their phone once every six and a half minutes. 

But, when does the tool to communicate cross the line and become an addiction? 

It is a growing problem especially among teens. 

“Our generation we have OCD we just check all the time, just check, check check” says Lake La Chapelle, a senior at Green Bay Preble High School.

“My phone is like my best friend. I always have it on me” says Marissa Hohol, also a senior at Preble. 

Most teens spend an average of seven hours a day looking at some sort of a screen. 

“It is such a part of their life. Asking them to put away their cell phone is like asking them to stop breathing” says Mark Bonetti, a teacher at the high school. 

He incorporates technology into his classroom, but he is also starting to find text message shorthand creeping into assignments. “This abbreviated language is starting to come across in their professional work. That is a problem” Bonetti says. 

According to La Chapelle “I would say that our generation gets labeled as addicted to our phones, but our parents generation is just as addicted because they came into this technology the same that we did”. 

Doctors say too much screen time can have serious consequences for kids and adults.

“It has been shown to increase problems with attention span, it gets your mind going so quickly that you will probably have trouble sleeping” explains Dr. Donald Beno, a Pediatrician at Aurora Baycare. 

Turns out texting neck -and smartphone thumb are real.  People are checking their phones so often, it can lead to aches and be a social pain. 

“Conversations are not conversational anymore. Every time you are talking with one another you are always pulling out your phone oh it went bing, oh that is nothing” Dr. Beno says. 

According to Preble student Trent Vandenhouten “At school it can be challenging with homework because its like oh I really want to talk to this person, but I gotta do this”. 

As teens transition to college “they have to learn that there is a time and a place for technology and they have to have the maturity to put it away and to focus socially without it” Bonetti says. 

These students are also finding the need to unplug in the workplace. 

“It is not too bad because it is only a couple of hours” says La  Chapelle “Everyone always checks their phone on break and after work when you are walking out everybody is always on their phone”. 

Now as these seniors prepare to graduate, they will move onto new challenges and new groups of friends. That will mean actually talking to people to put those new contacts in their phone. 

“I will not have a problem with that. My phone can wait especially if you are out with people” says Vandenhouten. 

La Chapelle agrees saying “I think just unplugging and reconnecting with your family and friends is what is really important and what is going to keep the world moving on”. 

If you are looking for some tips to help your teens unplug click here. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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