Written by Erren Harter
Meet Nina as described in a TIME magazine article this week.
Great friends, prosperous neighborhood and close relationship with her parents. Like most 16 year olds Nina spends lots of her time on her smartphone. Unlike many of her friends Nina has never been targeted or bullied on social media.
Seems like a pretty solid situation and a seemingly happy young lady – NOT!
Nina suffers from depression so severe she recently attempted to take her own life. Her therapist called it “body-image insecurity.”
Nina’s mom was caught completely off guard with her daughter’s problems calling her “funny, athletic, smart and personable.”
What mom didn’t know was Nina was spending hours in her room stalking models on Instagram. She stayed up late and developed an eating disorder because of her concern for how she looked. She said later she “didn’t totally want to be gone, she just wanted help and didn’t know how else to get it.”
There is total agreement that “smartphones are having a profound impact on the way adolescents today communicate and spend their free time.”
Consider these numbers from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:
Teenage depression has risen 60% between 2010 and 2016!
Suicide-related thoughts are up 48% in kids using electronic devices more than 5 hours a day!
One college professor said “The more we learn about kids and smartphones, the more we’re going to see limiting their exposure is a good idea.”
Smartphones in hands of young kids absolutely have benefits, but we are also learning there are serious perils to be watched.
TIME listed several ideas to consider:
1. No smartphones in the bedroom.
2. Utilize available Firewalls and Data cutoffs
3. Create a contract between parents and kids for smartphone usage.
4. Model healthy device behaviors! Kids do copy their parents.
5. And finally – how about a flip phone for Junior?
Seems like a big old red flag to me. Smartphones are great, but hidden in their use can be major problems.
I’m Steve Sauder