We are going to use a graphic organizer to help analyze a text about teenagers and cell phones.
1. Copy the Argument Graphic Organizer attached below.
2. Select one of the two texts,”The Distracted Teenage Brain,” or “Watch Out Cell Phones Can Be Addictive,” and determine the components of an argument essay.
3. Use the Argument Organizer to record the components.
The Distracted Teenage Brain Scientists discover that teens are easily distracted by behaviors that were once — but are no longer — rewarding
By Alison Pearce Stevens 2014
When most people think of distraction, they think of loud music or television, but in 2014 psychologist Zachary Roper conducted a study that offered a different definition of distraction. The results show why young adults may seem impulsive and easily distracted.
Teens have a reputation for making some not-sosmart decisions. Researchers have blamed those poor decisions on the immaturity of a teen’s prefrontal cortex. That is the part of the brain involved in making plans and decisions. But scientists now find the answer may be simpler: the allure1 of rewards. Rewards, even small ones, entice teens more than they do adults.
And, perhaps surprisingly, teens tend to continue doing things they once found rewarding, even after the actual payoff is long gone. Both findings come from a new study by researchers at the University of Iowa in Iowa City.
Psychologist Zachary Roper and his team worked with two groups of volunteers: 13- to 16-year olds and 20- to 35-year-old adults. Each volunteer had to play a game of sorts. During a training phase, a computer displayed six circles, each a different color. The players had to find the red or green circle. These targets had either a horizontal or vertical line inside. The remaining circles had lines at other angles. When the participant found the correct target, they had to press one of two keys on a keyboard. One key would report they had found the vertical line. The other reported finding a horizontal line.
When a volunteer hit the right key, the screen flashed the amount of the reward they had earned. For some volunteers, green circles provided a large (10-cent) reward and red circles provided a small (2-cent) reward. For other volunteers, the amounts were reversed, with red circles worth more. All other colors had no reward.
By the end of this training, volunteers had learned the value of each color. But they weren’t aware that they had, notes Iowa’s Jatin Vaidya. When the scientists asked the players about the value of red versus green circles, both teens and adults had no awareness that a circle’s color had any effect on how much they had earned during any given trial.
After this training ended, it was time to begin testing in earnest. The scientists informed the volunteers they had a new target. Each had to report the orientation of the line inside a blue diamond. Again, groups of six symbols appeared on a computer screen. Only one was a diamond. The other five were still circles. In some trials, one of those circles was red or green. In other trials, there were no red or green circles.
The recruits were told to answer as quickly as possible. And for this phase of the experiment, no additional money would be earned.
The researchers now measured how long it took people to find the diamond and record their answers.
When no red or green circles were among the onscreen options, both adults and teens responded quickly. But when a red or green circle showed up, both groups initially took a bit longer. Adults, though, quickly stopped paying attention to the colored circles. Their response times sped up.
Teens reacted differently. They took longer to respond whenever a red or green circle showed up. Their response times never sped up. Their attention still was drawn to the previously valued circles — even though the shapes no longer brought any reward. Clearly, the red and green circles were distracting teens from their objective.
Roper’s team reported the findings September 10 in Psychological Science.
“The study demonstrates that the attention of adolescents4 is especially drawn to rewarding information,” says Brian Anderson. A psychologist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md., he was not involved with the study. These data may help explain why teens engage in risky behavior, he says.
Some behaviors, such as texting or using social media, trigger the brain’s reward system. Once the teenage brain has linked a behavior to that reward, it continues to seek the reward again and again. That’s why teens are likely to opt for the reward of social media when they should be studying. Or why they respond to texts while driving.
How can someone overcome their brain’s attempts to distract? Vaidya suggests physically removing distractions whenever possible. Shut down the phone when driving or disconnect from Wi-Fi while doing homework. When distractions are not readily available, it will be easier to focus attention on the things that matter most. Like arriving home safely.
The Distracted Teenage Brain” by Alison Pearce Stevens from societyforscience.org. Copyright © 2014 by Society for Science. Reprinted with permission, all rights reserved. This article is intended only for single-classroom use by teachers. For rights to republish Science News for Students articles in assessments, course packs, or textbooks, visit: https://www.societyforscience.org/permission-republish.
Watch Out: Cell Phones Can Be Addictive
Too much dependence on your smartphone isn’t smart
By Kathiann Kowalski 2014
Dr. James Roberts is marketing professor and the author of a study about cell phone addiction that appeared in the August 2014 Journal of Behavioral Addictions. Here, Kathiann Kowalski of Science News for Students covers the results of his study.
The average college student uses a smartphone for about nine hours each day.
That’s longer than many of those students spend sleeping. In fact, such extended cell phone use shows that the technology could become an addiction, according to a new study. An addiction is a type of uncontrolled and unhealthy habit.
It’s well known that people can become addicted to drugs, such as alcohol, narcotics and the nicotine in cigarettes. What’s not so well known: “People can be addicted to behaviors,” says James Roberts. He’s a marketing professor at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. Roberts also was the lead author of the new study. It appears in the August Journal of Behavioral Addictions.
Some cell phone users show the same symptoms that a drug addict might have, Roberts explains. Certain people use smartphones to lift their moods. And it may take more and more time on those phones to provide the same level of enjoyment.
For such people, losing a phone or having its battery die could cause anxiety or panic. That’s withdrawal, says Roberts.
Too much phone use can interfere with normal activities or cause conflicts with family and other people, he adds. Yet despite these social costs, people may not cut back on their heavy phone use. Indeed, he says, people might be unable to stop on their own.
The new study asked college students how much time they spent on different phone activities. It also asked them how much they agreed or disagreed with statements suggesting possible addiction. “I spend more time than I should on my cell phone,” said one such statement. “I get agitated when my cell phone is not in sight,” said another. (Agitated means nervous or troubled.) The more calls someone made, the more likely they were to show signs of addiction.
The data also differed a bit for men and women.
Among men, for instance, signs of a possible addiction showed a positive link, or correlation, with time spent on a Bible app and apps for reading books. As use of either app increased, so did the risk of addiction. Men’s use of social media apps, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, also correlated with risk of addiction.
Women were more likely to show signs of addiction if they often used Pinterest, Instagram, Amazon or apps that let them use their phones like an iPod. Apps for the Bible, Twitter, Pandora and Spotify showed an inverse correlation. That is, heavy use of those apps was linked to a lower risk of phone addiction.
A correlation does not prove that one factor causes another. But those links can provide helpful clues. Roberts says the study’s results point to the types of rewards each gender might seek from cell phone use. For instance, “men use technology — cell phones in particular — more for entertainment and information,” Roberts notes.
“Women use the phone more for maintaining and nurturing social relationships,” he says. Those types of activities often take more time. And, on average, women did use phones longer each day than men did.
But simply because people used their phones a lot does not mean they were addicted.
Tracii Ryan is a psychologist at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia. She’s also the lead author of a report on Facebook addiction in the same issue of the Journal of Behavioral Addictions. “Withdrawal and excessive use are certainly two legitimate symptoms of addiction,” she notes. But, she adds, “They are not the only two that would be required for a diagnosis.”
Roberts agrees. However, he points out, there isn’t a good scale yet for measuring all of the factors behind cell phone addiction.
Ryan makes a similar point about studies on Facebook addiction. “Researchers have not always measured Facebook addiction using all of the accepted symptoms of addiction,” she says. “More consistent research is needed.”
Yet Ryan’s report offers insight into the main reasons why people use Facebook. Some want to interact with friends. Some want to pass time. Some want entertainment. And some people seek companionship.
“Any one of these motivations might cause a lift in mood, which then leads to Facebook addiction,” Ryan says. Someone might turn to Facebook to relieve loneliness, for example. But that person might use the site so much that it causes problems.
“The important point to take away from both studies is that technology use can become addictive for some people,” says Ryan.
As researchers keep asking questions, ask yourself some, too: How much time do you spend with your phone or other technologies? What activities do you use them for —and why? Do you use the technology when you should be paying attention in class or to other things? And how easily can you go a day — or even a week — without a phone or logging onto a social media or networking site?
“Watch Out: Cell Phones Can Be Addictive” from societyforscience.org, © 2014, Society for Science. Reprinted with permission, all rights reserved.This article is intended only for single-classroom use by teachers. For rights to republish Science News for Students articles in assessments, course packs, or textbooks, visit: https://www.societyforscience.org/permission-republish.