How Screen Time And Teen Mental Health Are Related

How Screen Time And Teen Mental Health Are RelatedMany parents understand that we’re living in challenging times yet they still feel as though their teenagers are suffering from both depression and anxiety. They even admit that they feel quite concerned about their mental health.

While some parents are cautiously transitioning back to school and other activities, COVID’s effects are far from over. While these concerns far predate the pandemic in the past year we’ve seen a rise in the rate of depression and anxiety as screen time has increased. Therefore this question about teen’s Well-being has taken on a new sense of urgency.

COVID has encouraged parents to have a new appreciation of their teen’s strengths and vulnerabilities when it comes to their digital habits. Although news headlines tend to be quite dramatic regarding how social media affects Well-being it’s actually much more complicated than that. Throughout COVID we’ve appreciated the strengths and weaknesses here. Now as we’re emerging from the pandemic we should also pause to consider how we can help our teens with their mental health.

There are Many Reasons Why Many Teens Aren’t Doing Well

There are a lot of teens facing depression and anxiety today. According to Common Sense Media, about 40% of those surveyed report moderate to severe symptoms. There’s no simple explanation for this.

At the beginning of the pandemic screentime only accounted for a small amount of variation in a person’s Well-being. This depended a lot on how technology was being used. Things like economic inequality and poverty, racism, social isolation, and health played an even bigger role in mental health.

While digital habits do have an impact on Well-being it’s important to look at how they’ll magnify or accelerate a person’s strengths and weaknesses. Showing support here isn’t as easy as simply disengaging from the Internet. We must also address other factors that impact teen’s Well-being.

Young People Turn to the Internet for Mental Health Information and Support

Even before the pandemic teens sought help online for their depression and anxiety. This is now a critical lifeline for them. There are lots of great resources available there but teens will also find a lot of negative influences as well.

Parents are responsible for normalizing what is and isn’t acceptable. They must also ensure that their teens have access to accurate support for their mental health when they do go online.

Social Media is a Very Powerful Influence on Teens

Fortunately, social media only has a small impact on depression and anxiety but teens who are struggling with their Well-being are still the most impacted. Those who are heavily reliant upon it for support and advice are more likely to say that it makes them feel anxious and depressed. This is something parents need to pay attention to though.

Focus More on Mental Health and Less on Devices

Although parents worry that screen time results in depression and anxiety teens see it as a coping mechanism. Recognizing the difference can be challenging. Nevertheless, if you see signs that your teen is struggling with mental health issues you should talk to their support system. Changing their online habits may in fact help with their Well-being. However, simply taking away their online devices can make them feel overwhelmed if you don’t also implement coping skills to help them.

As we take a look at how COVID has impacted anxiety and depression this year we’ll undoubtedly need to address screen time. There are a lot of teens who want to get back into the world but others are finding this more challenging. It’s important for parents to keep this in mind as we return to the “real world.” Doing so will allow us to know who needs more support and be able to do our best to provide it for them.

Moving Forward Together

It’s becoming increasingly clearer that emerging from COVID is going to be a process. It’s not going to be a matter of simply plugging in or unplugging devices. We’re all in this together and need to trust that we can make our way through these new online and offline challenges. If you need some help in doing so, make sure you contact TMS Advantage in St Peterburg and Clearwater, FL today.

Picture Credit: Freepik

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