According to the National Sleep Foundation,4 adolescents generally require at least eight and a half hours of sleep each night. Adolescents’ internal biological clocks tend to keep them awake later in the evening and sleep later in the morning than adults do. This allows Adolescences’ to stay up later into the night using technology. This can be a problem with most as they force themselves to stay awake to keep chatting with friends, playing the next level of a game, or watching television. One of the concerns of adolescents’ using technology before bed is the effects it’s having on their body’s produce of Melatonin. The amount of Melatonin we produce is determined by how dark or light our surroundings are. Our eyes have specialized light-sensitive receptors that relay this message to a cluster of nerves in the brain called the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus (SCN). The SCN sets our internal biological clock, also called our circadian rhythm, which regulates a variety of body functions including sleep. Melatonin is made from an amino acid called tryptophan. When our surroundings are dark, the SCN tells the pineal gland to produce melatonin, which triggers sleep.5 It has been found that just two-hours of light exposure from self-luminous electronic displays can suppress melatonin by about 22 percent.6 A poll done by the National Sleep Foundation showed that adolescents who had four or more technological devices in their bedrooms were almost twice as likely to fall asleep in school and while doing homework. This therefore affects the student’s grades giving them a higher chance of not receiving the grades they were aiming for. Dr Michael Gradisar is a researcher who specialises in child and adolescent sleep problems at Flinders University, Adelaide. Dr Gradisar suggests that the more interactive the technology is, the greater effect it is likely to have on a teenager’s sleep. Video games, mobile phones or the internet “are more alerting and disrupt the sleep-onset process.” On the other hand, more “passively received” technologies, like watching television or listening to music have a less stimulating effect7.
Tinnitus is a hearing problem that affects people of all ages; however the amount of adolescents who are afflicted with the hearing dysfunction is rapidly rising; this is mainly because of adolescents listening to music to loudly. People with tinnitus hear a ringing or buzzing noise when external physical noise is present. Tinnitus is a symptom that occurs when there is a fault in a person’s auditory system, which includes the ears and the brain. Causes can be: prolonged exposure to loud noise (rock concerts, building sites, etc.), extreme stress or trauma, degeneration of the hair cells in the cochlear, ear problems such as otosclerosis, Meniere’s disease, and some medications.8 According to research done by the Australian Hearing Organisation, it suggests that 30 per cent of the population suffers from tinnitus, with 15 per cent suffering constant annoyance as a result of the condition and one per cent reporting severe symptoms that affect the quality of their