Teens are facing a mental health crisis. Anxiety, depression and suicide are all increasing among today's youth. Many experts attribute this, at least in part, to the rise in smartphone usage and social media.
Cyberbullying: Kids have always faced bullies. But today, there is no escaping the teasing and taunting of cyberbullying. It comes home with kids every day, into their bedrooms and safe places 24/7 often in posts other kids can see causing increased social anxiety. Kids need access to device free zones and times, adults who can help them and other activities or friends that can help distract them and find value in themselves.
Social isolation/lack of personal connections: Busy schedules, increased distance, and safety concerns all contribute to kids not having the close personal relationships kids of the past did. As a result kids are connecting more than ever digitally with friends and family. They can accumulate hundreds or thousands of followers on social media, yet only interact face to face with just a few kids each day. The amount of time and energy they put in to the close relationships suffers in their attempt to maintain their online social presence, which in turn leads to emotional isolation. Parents who are constantly looking at their phones compound the problem.
Fear of missing out (FOMO): Due to the lack of personal connections and increased awareness of online social interactions, kids today are hyperaware of each sleepover or get together they weren't included in. They see the pictures from the party and feel sad that they weren't included. Instead of using the time to connect with a friend over ice cream or at a movie, they sit, on their phone, thinking of the fun they aren't having. Encourage them to get together with friends as much as possible, but not share photos of it on social media. Have fun for the sake of having fun, not to flaunt it.
Unhealthy comparisons: Social media in synonymous with selfies, highly curated social posts and an accumulation of likes, followers and snap streaks. Girls are constantly seeing heavily edited photos showing the perfect clothes, makeup and hair to which to compare themselves to.
Less healthy activity: With all the time teens spend on phones or devices, an average of 7:22 per day according to Common Sense Media's latest census, they are spending less time doing other healthy activities that can build confidence, a sense of achievement and connectedness, all of which lead to healthier self confidence and mental health.
Lack of sleep: Most kids report having their phones in their rooms overnight and 36% of teens report waking up checking their phones in the middle of the night. Research indicates that 60 percent of adolescents are looking at their phones in the last hour before sleep, and that they get on average an hour less sleep than their peers who don’t use their phones before bed.
If you or someone you know needs help, here are a few organizations that you can contact.
The resources below will help shed light on this critical issue
With anxiety, depression, and suicide skyrocketing among teens today, mental health is an urgent topic to improve.