Is Too Much Screen Time Making Your Teen Depressed?
I have four kids and my last one left at home is an 8th grader. I feel bad for him because as much as I try to keep him busy in sports and other activities, it’s really hard to replace having brothers and a sister around to keep him company. My wife and I have been talking a lot about what is the most healthy way we can help him stay busy with productive and fulfilling activities.
Truth is, even though he’s a great kid, plays sports year round, is on the student council and gets all A’s, he spends a lot of time alone playing video games and looking at his phone.
So while I was looking into recent research on health and fitness, I came across a recent study.
In the summary it states that “Teens do better with less screen time and more time with sports and art.” The results of this study were published in The Journal of Preventive Medicine.
According to this most recent research, spending less time watching TV, looking at cell phones and video games and spending more time in sports and other extracurricular activities boosts teens’ mental health.
They found that spending less than two hours a day of screen time was linked to “increased levels of life satisfaction, optimism and lower levels of anxiety and depression, especially among girls.”
This data was compiled before the pandemic and the researchers said that these findings are even more relevant now, due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The lead researcher for the study said, ”Our findings highlight extracurricular activities as an asset for teens’ mental well-being. Finding ways for children and teens to continue to participate in these activities during current times is a way to reduce screen time and promote mental health and well-being.”
Nearly 29,000 7th graders were surveyed in this study.
They found that teens who took part in extracurricular activities were less likely to engage in screen-based activities for two or more hours after school.
Increased screen time was directly correlated to negative effects on mental health in teens, and the correlation was even more pronounced in girls than boys.
Dr. Oberle said, “We do know that some forms of screen time can be beneficial, like maintaining connections with friends and family members online if we cannot see them in person, but there are other types of screen time that can be quite harmful,”
Even though my son is highly active in school and sports, he is still getting more than 2 hours per day of screen time. My wife and I need to discuss effective and constructive ways to keep him involved in as many positive things as possible after school and try to keep his screen time under two hours.
Another thing I read is that our example is a huge influence on the amount of time kids spend on their phones.
Good luck with your teens. Let me know some things that work for you!
Founder/ CEO Nanohydr8