Let's face it: Teenagers spend hours texting, socializing on Facebook and playing video games. And it's driving their parents nuts.
Sure, there are real dangers associated with all this screen time — everything from cyberbullying to couch-potato obesity. Not to mention driving while texting, shortened attention spans and Internet porn.
But many of today's parents spent hours as kids sitting in front of screens too — only they were TV screens.
Which raises an interesting question: Is Facebook really worse for teenagers' brains than the mindless reruns of "Gilligan's Island" and "The Brady Bunch" that their parents consumed growing up?
Douglas Gentile, a child psychologist and associate professor at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, who studies the effects of media on children, says texting, Facebook and video games are not inherently bad. Nor are they inherently better or worse than watching TV, although they do pose different risks, such as cyberbullying.
But research has shown that the more time kids spend in front of screens — whether it's TV or instant-messaging — the worse their school performance. "That doesn't mean it's true for every kid, but it makes sense, that for every hour a kid is playing video games, it's an hour that they're not doing homework or reading or exploring or creating," he said.