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Online Addiction

How Screen Time Can Impact Your Teen’s Mental Health

Posted by Sue Scheff on June 14, 2021  /   Posted in Featured Article, Internet Addiction, Teen Help

Teens, Technology and Emotional Wellness

Help Your Teens UnSplashTeenScreentime-300x225 How Screen Time Can Impact Your Teen's Mental Health Teenagers today could probably be known as the “iPhone generation”. They never knew a world without technology at their fingertips, and they’ve grown up with screens and digital devices at every turn. So, smartphones, tablets, and computer screens are part of everyday life for most teenagers.

But, is that a good thing?

Parents and scientists alike have shown great interest in the effects of screen time on a teenager’s health. Some studies have argued that too much of it can cause physical health issues.  On the other hand, many teens use technology as a way to stay connected. Taking it away could impact their mental health.

So, what’s the answer? As a parent, that’s up to you. But, it’s important to know what screen time can really do to your teen – especially when it comes to their mental health.

Common Mental Health Concerns

It’s estimated that teenagers spend over seven hours looking at their phones each day. Whether they’re scrolling through Instagram, creating TikToks, or chatting on WhatsApp, it’s easy for teenagers to get lost in the social aspect of being on their phones. Of course, phones and tablets are also used for entertainment, like watching videos and playing games. The options are endless, which makes it easy to waste hours without really thinking about it.

That connection can lead to things like peer pressure, bullying, or even just the desire to “fit in” on different social media platforms. Your teen might feel as though they have to constantly be plugged in just to keep up with their friends.

Unfortunately, that can take a toll on their mental health. One study found that teens who spend at least three or four hours a day looking at a screen have an increased risk of depression, thoughts of self-harm, and even suicide. Another study found that young people who spend at least seven hours in front of a screen each day are more likely to officially be diagnosed with depression or anxiety. It also found that the less screen time a teen had, the better their overall wellbeing.

The mental health issues associated with too much screen time can lead to bigger problems. Depression and anxiety can cause teenagers to:

  • Become fatigued
  • Have trouble concentrating
  • Isolating themselves
  • Losing interest in things they love
  • Have lower test scores

It can be difficult to understand teen depression. But, paying attention to these warning signs can alert you that something isn’t right. If you know that your teen spends most of their time in front of a screen, it won’t be hard to connect the dots and find out where their problems are stemming from.

Don’t Overlook the Physical Issues

Help Your Teens PexelSleepingTeen-300x200 How Screen Time Can Impact Your Teen's Mental Health In addition to mental health concerns, spending too much time in front of screens can lead to physical problems, too. For starters, starting at a screen all day can wreak havoc on your eyes. When a teenager spends too long looking at a screen, they can strain their eyes because the constant movement makes it harder to focus.

The light from the screen can also cause the eyes to become tired and lead to vision issues. Some of the common signs of vision problems include:

  • Squinting
  • Head tilting
  • Poor hand-eye coordination
  • Rubbing their eyes
  • Headaches

In addition to damaging the eyes, staring at a digital device all day can cause back and neck problems. It can even lead to poor sleep quality, which could leave your teen feeling tired and make them more prone to getting sick or injured. While feelings of depression and anxiety are important to recognize, don’t ignore the physical problems your teen could have to deal with because of their phones or tablets, either.

How to Talk to Your Teen About Screen Time

As a parent of a teenager, you probably already know it’s not always easy to talk to them – especially about things they don’t want to give up. But, knowing how screen time can impact them, it’s important to set boundaries. That’s especially true if your teen is spending most of their time at home.

Create a schedule that works for everyone, allowing them to use their electronic devices during certain hours of the day and only for a set amount of time. You might get some pushback at first. But, creating a schedule is a great way to be fair. Eventually, your teen will look forward to those times when they have their devices and will know how to handle it when each time is over.

To promote less screen time, encourage your teen to try other things. What are their other interests and hobbies? Or, what’s something you think would love if they tried it? If they have a passion for art, encourage them to create their own art, like a comic book. Do they love music? Suggest an instrument.

Maybe they have gotten into running or strength training. Why not encourage a sport? When your teen really discovers their passion, they’ll be less enamored with their screens. As a result, they can be mentally and physically healthier, and you can take comfort in knowing they aren’t depending on a digital device to find contentment.

If you feel you have exhausted your local resources — and your teen needs more help, contact us about how residential might be able to benefit your family.

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Internet Addiction and Teenagers: Shutting Down Their Devices

Posted by Sue Scheff on October 11, 2015  /   Posted in Digital Parenting, Internet Safety, Parenting Teens, Struggling Teen Help

Monitoring verses Mentoring Your Teen’s Online Behavior

Help Your Teens SueScheffBlog.com-The-Internet-Isnt-All-Bad-Teens-Without-it-Seen-as-Educationally-Disadvantaged-Pic-1-300x200 Internet Addiction and Teenagers: Shutting Down Their Devices Today it’s more than drug addiction parents are concerned about, we have the digital addiction. It has been rampant to the point that there are teen help programs designed to detox teens from their devices.

When should you remove your teenager from the Internet?

The Internet is an amazing source of information, news and culture. But the Internet also has a dark side that isn’t always appropriate for all ages.

Perhaps that is why parents have stepped in to monitor how their children are exposed to the Internet. It’s a tough job, but it’s a responsibility that a parent needs to keep up with – both online and offline.

10 Reasons Why Parents Consider Shutting Down Their Teen’s Digital Connection:

  1. Pornography: The Internet has plenty of valuable and useful information. It also has a great deal of highly offensive pornographic material that is not suitable for children. Parents can exercise their discretion in monitoring their children’s intake of pornography and have a responsibility to do so. Without their careful monitoring, a child can be exposed to things that they have no business seeing.
  2. Hateful Content: The freedom of expression the Internet allows can expose some truly hateful opinions. Teens should not be exposed to this sort of hateful content, and it’s important that parents step in to prevent teens, especially children,  from hearing overtly hateful messages.
  3. Religious Reasons: The Internet is the ultimate open forum where people can express a dizzying array of views on any subject. For those parents who have deeply held religious beliefs, exposing their children to discriminatory messages may not be tolerated. This might be a good reason to step in and take the Internet away from a kid who is snooping around in all the wrong places.
  4. They Should be Exercising: Whatever happened to playing outside? Many children spend too much time on the Internet and not enough time exercising. To help combat the epidemic of obesity, parents should step in and be sure that their kids are getting enough exercise. One great way to do this is to take away their kids’ favorite distraction: the Internet.
  5. Punishment: Now that kids rely on the Internet for everything, taking away a child’s access to the Internet can be an effective punishment. Threatening to take away Internet or Internet access may keep even the most unruly kids on their best behavior.
  6. Age: There is no official age limit on who can access the Internet, but parents have a good idea of who is too young to surf the web and should enforce those common sense ideas. If a kid is barely in Kindergarten, they may not need an iPhone or Internet access. Parents should use their discretion when it comes to children and the Internet.
  7. Excess Usage: If a kid is using the Internet way too much, a parent should step in and take it away. Why? Because many negative behaviors can be correlated with over dependence on the Internet at a young age, such as anti-social behavior, obesity and poor academic performance. Parents should closely monitor how long their kids spend on the net and take the appropriate steps to ensure that they aren’t surfing too much.
  8. Money Reasons: High speed Internet access can be expensive. In these tough economic times, sacrifices must be made. For some families, the expensive Internet access their kids enjoy may be on the chopping block. When facing a dismal financial reality, the Internet is a luxury that not every kid or family will be able to afford.
  9. Security: The Internet can be a dangerous place. From identity theft to sexual predators, kids are at risk when they surf the web. A responsible parent will know when to step in and ensure that their children are surfing safely. If they can’t surf safely, kids shouldn’t surf at all.
  10. Life Lessons: Going without something you enjoy is an important life lesson. You may not always get your way, and life isn’t always instantaneously gratifying. By taking away the ultimate source of instant gratification, for whatever reason, kids can learn a valuable life lesson that you can’t always get what you want.

Help Your Teens CyberbullyingTeens-300x247 Internet Addiction and Teenagers: Shutting Down Their Devices This is about finding balance in your teen’s life. Keep in mind you want to build trust in your child’s online and offline relationship.

If they are being harassed (cyberbullied) online, you want them to feel comfortable coming to you without the fear of having their life-line, (the Internet), removed from them.

Shutting down devices is about health and wellness for your family, as well as if they are misusing it.  However if they are a victim, be sure you are compassionate and non-judgmental. They need you. Your offline parenting about online life should be in place to help them with these times.

If you find the Internet addiction has taken control of their life, you have exhausted your local resources, please contact us for information on teen help residential programs that may help you.

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