Teens in the U.S. continue to experience increased rates of depression and anxiety, resulting in a rise of self-harm and death by suicide. Technology and social media may play a role, according to a recent study. Dr. Angela Mattke, a Mayo Clinic pediatrician not involved in the study, helps explain the connection.
Computers, laptops, smartphones all play an important role in the lives of our teens. Dr. Mattke says teens are “using [technology] to learn in the classroom and out of the classroom. They’re using it to collaborate and connect on projects.”
But it’s outside the classroom where too much social media may lead to social problems. Dr. Mattke says kids learn to become passive engagers.
“They’re watching everyone else’s Instagram, but they’re not engaging and, so, they’re losing out on that social connection.”
Electronic screens also can disrupt sleep. And a lack of good sleep can result in a depressed mood, moodiness and irritability.
“If they are spending a lot of time on their cellphones or screens, it can affect the hormones in their brain via the blue light that comes off of these screens.”
Dr. Mattke offers a few tips:
- Limit recreational screen time to two hours a day.
- Encourage shutting screens down at least an hour before bedtime.
- Set a rule of no screens in the bedroom.
“If they are getting texts or messages that are coming through all night long, that’s going to be interrupting their sleep and you’re not going to know how late they’re up.”