Dean of Students | Mr Damien Fall

Research tells us that, while the adolescent brain is an amazing thing, multi-tasking is not always at the top of the skills list.

Mental health remains a significant point of focus for young people and last week, I wrote about anxiety and some suggestions for managing stress and anxiety in adolescents. This week, I would like to present some information regarding the reliance that many young men have on screens – phone, computer and television. Last week, a number of House Deans attended a conference looking at the neuropsychology of screen addiction. Various academics presented statistics including:

  • 51% of teens watch television while doing homework
  • 50% of teens use social media while doing homework
  • 60% of teens text message while doing homework
  • On average, students from Year 6 through to university age only study for 6 minutes before being distracted by technology
  • Internet gaming disorder is most common in male adolescents 12 to 20 years of age

Research tells us that, while the adolescent brain is an amazing thing, multi-tasking is not always at the top of the skills list. Hence, it is highly unlikely for most students that they can effectively combine study with any of the above pursuits. It is now recognised that screen overuse can be classed as an addiction with similar characteristics to a substance addiction. The sense of connection, quest for mastery and instant reward for little effort are among the attractions to gaming and the games themselves are designed to provide these rewards and hence, the desire to partake.

A second relevant topic is that of children’s access to pornography. The statistics around ease of access and usage of pornography by children are alarming. Among scholarly data I have viewed are the statistics that the mean age at which boys first actively search for pornography is 12 years, and 63% of boys access this material weekly. An excellent resource for parents is the website ‘It’s time we talked’. I recommend it to parents as a source of information and advice about what is a very tricky topic.

The key for parents is obviously to monitor screen usage and restrict the time they are available to their sons. With most boys, it is wise to assume that time spent in an environment with free access to screens and no supervision will lead to their misuse or overuse. A strong commitment to minimizing and monitoring screen time can be a great challenge for parents, but it is time well spent.

On Wednesday of next week, our Year 10 students will attend the GPS Cross Country Championships to support our athletes. I have written to parents of Year 10 students about this, and the importance of their role in providing strong, positive support. After many weeks of training, we wish the team all the very best on this day. Exams are now a little over a week away, so this should be reflected in the work at home. All the best to everyone as we approach the busy end of term.