OPINION|Phil Paleologos: Social Media Contributes to Teen Depression
Something really scary is happening under our noses. Our kids are expecting more from social media and iPhones, and much less from each other, and this is fanning the flames of anxiety in our young people ages 14 to 24.
There are some alarming statistics coming from a 2017 scientific study by The Royal Society of Public Health that worked with 1,500 11-to-25-year-olds, recording their mood while using Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and other social media.
The bottom line: 70 percent blamed Instagram for poor mental and body image, 65 percent confirmed Facebook made cyber bullying worse, and 50 percent agreed that Facebook and Instagram worsened their feelings of anxiety.
Pause for a moment and let that sink in.
There's a consensus in the mental health field that kids are spending too long on their phones or social media. It's not always their fault, either; they're sucked down the rabbit hole and unaware they are wasting hours away staring at a screen. Let's implement pop-up notifications when a young person has spent a certain amount of time online, and help learn how to set their own limits to social media. And just as public schools have health education, students should also be taught how to use social media in a healthy way.
Social media has replaced relationship-building and self-identity shaping. That's why it is intrinsically linked to having a negative impact on mental health. Plus, the kids feel a fear of 'missing out ' that's driving the addiction to social media.
Let's not put our children on anti-depressants as the solution, either. Let's help wean them off social media, by restricting them to an hour in the morning and an hour before bed, after homework. Let's call it going on a social media "diet."
And finally, let's call on Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to shut down Messenger Kids, an unnecessary messaging app developed for children.
Considering what our children have to deal with in today's world, now more than ever they need our hugs--and real hugs, not just some kind of .GIF or Emoji.