Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

March 13, 2012
Getting to the root of teen addictions means discussing ‘boredom’

It seems that lately more and more studies are being done about teen addictions. Some of the most common that we hear about every day are things like pornography, texting, video games, substance abuse, sleeping and eating.

These topics seem pretty unrelated. However, what is clear is that nearly every teenager these days is engaged in an excessive amount of something, no matter how serious the obsession is.

For me, the same applies. I can get carried away with Facebook use, texting and surfing the web. However, I must admit that my biggest addiction is definitely reading. Sure, the idea of reading being any kind of damaging addiction seems trivial. However, when I say that I am addicted to reading, what I mean is that I am addicted to easy-read, fantastical, must-have-happy-ending stories that have nothing to do with the hours worth of assignment reading I should be doing instead.

Something about the idea of entire separate worlds from the one we live in seems so appealing to me. Of course, that’s not to say I don’t enjoy reading historical or realistic novels as well, but there is nothing better than the stories that both pull you in with the story line and require minimal original thought or effort to comprehend.

Like any other addiction, there are certain characteristics of my obsession with reading that can be destructive. First of all, as applies to every habit, it is a distraction from reality. Too often we get hooked on anything that will let us escape the drudgery of what we consider to be our dull lives.

The next surefire sign of a dangerous dependence on a habit is the way that it keeps you from doing things that are more important and productive. I love books, but I’ve spent many a sleepless night finishing a fantasy novel while my English-class book sits untouched. Video games, texting and Facebook all seem to have similar effects on teens.

That isn’t to say that adults and children aren’t plagued by similar problems, but it seems to be an especially hot topic for junior high and high school students. The only pattern that seems to be affecting it is the continued availability of technology.

Teenagers these days have grown up with portable gaming systems, phones, laptops, computer games and constant access to Internet. As time evolves, so does the ease of entertainment. We can virtually open a store, raise a child, play sports, and yes, even venture into a whole different world.

Reality has become a word full of negative connotation. If we don’t have constant means of being distracted from it, whether it’s from a book, video game or drug, then we don’t know what to do with ourselves. We seem to be decreasing in our ability to entertain ourselves.

My grandpa used to tell us, “If you’re bored, then you’re stupid.”

Well, teens now are hardly ever bored, but only because we have constant entertainment at our fingertips. Whenever those means of entertainment are taken from us, then it seems like we are suddenly unable to function. Is it because the ease of distraction has made us stupid in terms of imagination? We are so dependent on escaping dull realities that harmless things can become detriments to us.

Now let me be clear in saying that for the most part, the things that teens get hooked on aren’t always dangerous. Video games, cell phones, books, Facebook and the Internet as a whole can all be helpful, positive things. However, the line is crossed when they become tools that we can’t function without.

Siera Gomez is a junior at Stansbury High School.

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