Integrated Family Community Services 3370 South Irving Street, Englewood, CO 80110-1816 Ph: 303-789-0501

How is Tech Affecting Your Child’s Mental Wellbeing?

Technology is a part of every aspect of daily life for adults, and this is also true for children. A growing number of elementary-age children have their own smartphones, and many kids use tablets, laptops and other devices both at school and at home. The COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated remote learning throughout the United States, resulting in kids spending more time on screens. Knowing how tech is affecting your child’s mental well-being allows you to step in and seek help if your child develops concerning issues.

More Exposure to Bullying

The anonymity of the internet increases a child’s exposure to bullying. Being able to hide behind an avatar allows anybody to start bullying someone on the internet. Your child could become the victim of this type of online bullying by a stranger or by a classmate. Online bullying is a serious mental health risk.

Increase in Adolescent Depression

Children who spend too much time online may develop symptoms of depression. Adolescents are at a particularly high risk of developing depression from their online activities. Spending a lot of time online means less time for in person interactions and activities. Teens may start to feel lonely. They may stop engaging in their hobbies or activities they used to enjoy in order to send more of their time on the internet. Teens may spend more time alone in their rooms on their devices instead of at a friend’s house, inviting a friend over or visiting their favorite places. Withdrawal, changes in mood, changes in sleeping patterns, a drastic increase or decrease in appetite or body weight and expressions of worthlessness are serious signs of depression.

Worsening of Anxiety

Spending a lot of time on social media and online in general could increase a child’s anxiety. Teenagers who have full access to the internet may come across disturbing news headlines that cause them to worry about things they cannot control. Kids who spend a lot of time on social media platforms may worry about keeping up with what their friends are doing or with what celebrities or influencers are doing online. This could also trigger new anxiety in a child who previously had no symptoms.

Addiction to Online Gaming

Online gaming is a popular pastime among children. Many games are specifically geared toward children. Those games have addictive elements, such as ever-increasing levels, more outfits for a character, special bonus offers, limited-time activities and more. Parents may wonder how to break a child’s video game addiction, especially if a child resists doing their schoolwork, playing sports or doing anything else besides online gaming. Online gaming addictions are similar to other types of addictions, and children who exhibit withdrawal, depression or anger when they lose gaming access or denial about their addiction may benefit from counseling and therapy.

Disruption of Sleep

Using screens too close to bedtime causes disrupted sleep in adults as well as children. Using a screen until bedtime can also make it more difficult for your child to fall asleep. The blue light disrupts melatonin production. The excitement of playing games or commenting on social media energizes a child’s brain. A child’s brain development happens at a rapid pace, and their brains need enough sleep every night in order to learn. A child’s growing body also need quality sleep. Kids who stay up too late on a screen may feel fatigued all day. Lack of sleep is associated with poor school performance, mood problems, behavior problems, depression and anxiety.

Foregoing in Person Relationships

According to Piedmont Health, children may forego in person social relationships. Children may become dependent on social media for their interactions with others. They may stop wanting to spend time in person with their friends, relying on texting and social media platforms for their interactions. This deprives them of the stronger connections that in person socializing offers.

Like everything else, balance is necessary when it comes to technology and children. You should place limits on your child’s screen time. A child’s online activities should be monitored closely so that you can nip problems in the bud as soon as they happen. Vigilance, good digital hygiene and informing kids of online threats are all key to ensuring your child’s mental well-being when they make use of modern technology.

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