AY About You wants to help our readers take care of themselves, stay refreshed and less stressed with our new weekly feature Wellness Wednesday. Each Wednesday, we will have an article about health and wellness to promote all around well-being. That means physically, mentally and emotionally!
While social media can help people stay connected and feel less isolated nowadays, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine, it can also have negative impacts on mental health, especially in younger people.
On average, teenagers spend an average of 7 hours and 22 minutes a day on their phone. Kids from ages 8 to 12 are not far behind, spending an average of over 4 hours and 44 minutes on their phones.
Lauren English, who is a licensed professional counselor with Pinnacle Pointe Hospital, says that studies have shown some of those negative impacts can include increased feelings of depression, anxiety, poor body image and loneliness.
If kids aren’t getting enough practice relating to people in real life, the likelihood of being unable to communicate as an adult, from social environments to job interviews, increases.
It is important for younger individuals to develop skills to communicate and converse face-to-face. English talks about establishing “technology free zones in our homes and technology free hours.”
Focusing on having fun together without technology can help kids understand that technology isn’t needed all the time, and isn’t mandatory to have fun.
“That can be a good way to start showing some healthy communication habits,” English says, later adding that it might also be a good idea to have a device charging station or social media curfew. Additionally, not allowing kids to take their phones with them to bed can improve sleeping habits.
Of course, adults should also be good role models in the way that they limit their own phone usage.
“Remember that kids pick up on our cues and they watch us and they learn from us constantly,” says English. “So, we can all benefit from less screen time.”
Consider getting more involved outside in the community or finding a new hobby for your kids so that they have real time exposure to others. This will help kids feel happier and develop a sense of purpose.