Mental Health: Teens and Smartphone
Nowadays, almost every teen you see has a smartphone of some kind, and they are damaging our children’s mental health. When we were teens we would leave school and actually leave. The day’s drama, while still on our minds for a short while, was left at our lockers. That doesn’t happen anymore—not with smartphones.
Research shows between 2009 and 2017 the number of high schoolers who contemplated suicide increased 25 percent. The number of teens diagnosed with depression increased 37 percent between 2005 and 2014.
Our children and teens are constantly in contact with bullies and are up all hours of the night responding to texts. Where they used to be able to escape to the safety of their bedrooms, that no longer exists. Technology allows them to always be followed and stay in touch with the outside world. Even though as parents we don’t quite understand this addiction to the phone, after all, it wasn’t something we dealt with as a child.
Controlling our teens’ smartphones
We have to set the example. It is hard, believe me, I understand, to put that phone down, sometimes, but you need to show your children the boundaries. One important rule is no phone in the bedroom at night. Your kids, and yourself, need to sleep. That phone is a constant distraction.
Taking that a step further, they must not use phone or device use (of any kind) before bedtime. The blue light of these devices can be overstimulating making it hard to fall asleep. Not enough sleep can be a major risk factor for depression.
Additionally, try to limit your child’s overall scrolling time per day to less than two hours. This doesn’t count time spent on homework. If they need the internet for a school project, that is fine. But, after homework, you need to set a time lime. This might be especially hard on weekends but it is so important—encourage them to meet up with their friends, go for a walk, be active, get out of the house, anything but be on that phone.
There are some apps that can help parents to monitor and control phone use:
- Boomerang Parental Control
- Screen Time Limit KidCrono
- ESET Parental Control
- Norton Family Parental Control