Creative Corner

Degeneration Through Digital Devices

A boy of 11 years is at home playing Call of Duty Black ops in the year 2010. He is so excited to have a new game and so is a hardcore fan of the first-person shooter genre. This kid and his friends decide to undergo a common challenge within the community, that is to become the first player to reach master prestige. This leveling system is rinsed and repeated; players go through the progression of the 50 levels then get set back to level 1 for 15 times. This grueling process demands hours and hours of time, dedication and is meant to last the course of an entire year; until the next game of the genre drops. This 11-year-old spends hours, day, and night to “grind” through the levels and reach master prestige. A race between him and his friends quickly descends into something out of a nightmare for both him and his parents

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 After a 72-hour gaming session- with little to no breaks- he wakes up screaming in a fit of fright. In his mind, bullets are flying at him as if he were a soldier in Vietnam (the setting of Call of Duty Black Ops 1); his father runs into the room thinking there is an intruder only to see his son in a state of delirium, panic-stricken, awake but his mind numb as the father grips his son and shakes him back to reality. The son seeing his father breaks down in his arms, sobbing uncontrollably. This 11-year-old is the story of my cousin, who is now 23 and still gripped by screen addiction from both gaming and gambling on sports at an unhealthy rate.

Stories like the one suffered by my cousin are often silenced where stories of success are praised. The gaming industry has boomed with the development of the battle royale style shooter (e.g. Fortnite, Call of Duty: Warzone and Apex Legends). Now entertainers are making millions of dollars from playing video games. For reference, I am referring to individuals like Ninja, the Fortnite prodigy, and entertainers such as Timthetatman who plays Call of Duty’s battle royale named Warzone. Too many of their careers are attractive because these influencers get to live out their dream of not only being rich but by achieving wealth through doing something they love. Due to these feats of success, the entire industry of gaming has rapidly expanded, and people are no longer using gaming as a means of entertainment, but also pouring countless hours trying to make a name for themselves in their respective virtual world. 

The gaming community is something I have been involved with since I was 11 or 12, therefore I have seen its growth in the past decade and how people in my age group have become attached to the virtual world of their most beloved game. While gaming is the beginning of this conversation, it is not the sole purpose; screen addiction is dominating our education system on all levels without discrimination. I have noticed my fellow classmates struggle to pay attention to lectures as they try to peel their eyes away from their device. This is a dire situation that is damaging the youth of not only our university at Holy Family, nor unique to our country, but a global issue.

Technology has only rapidly expanded in the 12 years since my cousin’s incident. Within an article on screen addiction the Mayo clinic cites neurological connection and explanation to my cousin’s experience: “If the game depicts a dangerous or violent situation, the gamer’s body reacts accordingly. This “fight-or-flight response” to that perceived danger is triggered by exposure to intense stimulation and violence in the game. Excessive video game use can lead to the brain being revved up in a constant state of hyperarousal” (Luker). The point of hyperarousal is something that I want to focus on here. It is common knowledge that the brain releases chemicals when in states of fright or flight; but it also does so during activities that are pleasurable to the individual. For sake of our issue, it heavily connects the notion of people being attracted to their screens because algorithms are designed to constantly push content that the viewer will not only be interested but is likely to enjoy. Therefore, this content is pleasurable and commands the focus of the individual even if their focus should be elsewhere in the moment, for example at school.

As a student at HFU, I feel as though I am now one the few who still take notes using a notebook and a pencil rather than tech to some capacity. If students were merely just using laptops, iPad, Chromebook, etc. for notes I would applaud this action and respect it as merely a new way of doing things. However, this is not the case in its entirety. Students are surfing the web, checking apps, or even my personal favorite watching full-on movies or shows during class. This is particularly an issue with first-year to second-year students. Students of all ages at HFU do this, but from my experience, it affects incoming first- and second-year students far more than those of third-year and fourth-year. These students are not engaged in their academic study or classroom engagement but are instead transporting themselves out of the classroom into the digital black hole. I cannot help but think about a quote from Father Mark: “you or someone you love is paying an egregious amount of money for you to be able to attend university”. This quote has stuck with me because it made me reflect on how students of this nature are cheating their families and themselves. Overall, their chances of success in the workforce, limiting their knowledge in their central area of study or missing general education material that is a fundamental aspect of HFU’s curriculum. A point of the curriculum that attracted me to the university is that it focuses on the diversity of knowledge and study that allows students to not only navigate society but actively participate and contribute. The rapid development and implementation of technology in the classroom is severely counteracting and restricting discussion-based participation and overall engagement in the classroom. 

According to data, the statistics about the severity of screen addiction and how the worry is only growing as younger generations are being predisposed to screens at increasingly preliminary stages in life. The concern for people using too much screen time has even extended to the parents as shown in the information presented by the Pew Research Center: “Overall, around two-thirds of parents (65%) say they worry to some extent about their teen spending too much time in front of screens, with one-third saying this worries them a lot” (Jiang). From this, it is evident that teenagers spend too much time on their mobile devices and other electronics. The reliance on technology during the COVID pandemic has only increased the societal decline in things like attention span and focus on things outside of the screen. It has gotten to a point where teens are not only using their phones and devices far too much but even report feeling lonely or anxious without them. How can people of this nature function in the workplace when they cannot focus on important tasks? This is a complex question to answer but I have a suggestion that may help our university’s students get back to paying attention to lectures and not only paying attention to lectures but participating in class discussion. 


Screen addiction is damaging both the workforce and the youth of society in schools, across the globe, each day. This is an issue that is plaguing our campus as well. Post-pandemic students cannot lock in on their studies and focus on their assignments nor lectures due to constantly checking their phone, surfing the web, or watching movies when they should be hard at work. Allow me to propose a few solutions to combat this problem. I think Holy Family University should adopt a policy in which they provide each student with a tablet. This tablet will have websites and apps outside of the ones necessary too restricted to the Holy Family curriculum restricted. These tablets will allow students to use necessary apps like Canvas and be able to visit sites such as the Holy Family University webpage. This is a necessary precaution that the university should take, especially as it pushes to make more courses available through an online and hybrid capacity. These tablets will limit distractions in lectures and discipline students and promote a focus on lectures and assignments. An additional bonus of providing a tablet is that the school is providing students tools they need to succeed if they lack access to a highly functional device. This solution, while expensive to the university, could change how universities across the globe go about implementing technology into the classroom. 

These suggestions are not limited to an administrative approach. For professors, there must be harsh penalties for students who are caught using their phone after being warned. A three-strike rule would be a good implementation and after the third offense, the student can have points deducted from his or her participation grade. The participation grade can be posted for a total of 15% and students receive feedback on their performance 3 times throughout the semester accounting for 5% each. As for students, by not participating and allowing technology to dominate performance there are extreme limits being set on productivity. In the short term, grades will be affected negatively as there is no way to obtain and retain necessary information if distracted. As for the long term, bad precedents and habits are being developed. Distraction dominating performance now can and will lead to limits on the productivity of the workplace once the student has graduated from HFU. 

Nicholas Graff is a 22-year-old student at Holy Family University, pursuing an English major/Criminal justice minor in his fourth year. He is considering a career in journalism, but he has been leaning heavily toward the idea of serving in a federal law enforcement branch, be it DEA or FBI.