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Excessive Screen-Time Is Invariably Linked To Children And Teenagers Suffering From Mental Health Illnesses

Screen-time’s an inescapable part of day to day life. To fully deprive children of it would simply cripple their ability to interact with technology down the line; technology which will inevitably become a part of their everyday activities as well, work or pleasure. However, not limiting screen-time can have some detrimental effects on children. Let’s take a look at what constitutes as 'excessive'.

The COVID-19 pandemic essentially locked everyone indoors with their electronic devices for a solid year or so, and then encouraged them to engage with said technology for the sake of classes, work, and so forth. Adolescent screen-time reportedly more than doubled during the pandemic, reaching up to an average of 7.7 hours per day in 2020 compared to 2019’s 3.8. This does, however, also include time spent attempting schoolwork or reading e-books as well, so perhaps not all is lost. 50% of the USA’s teens claim to feel addicted to their smartphones, with 72% feeling the constant urge to check and/or reply to messages they might have received. 78% of all adolescents check their phone on an hourly basis.

While these numbers may or may not seem harmful, since let’s be honest: everyone has spent an insane amount of time online in 2020, these numbers truly gain weight when viewed in the context of content that children and adolescents encounter online. 7 out of ten children have encountered harmful content, and teens who use social media for more than 3 hours a day are documented to be at a heightened risk of mental health illnesses. This data actively corresponds with what Frances Haugen had to offer about Facebook and its social media platforms. Her entire whistleblowing campaign was built around the concept that platforms like Facebook are actively harming users by essentially adopting bad practices of feeding aggravating posts and headlines that will lead to higher engagement – at the cost of a user’s mental peace.

Cyberbullying continues to be a massive online problem, with one out of every six individuals having encountered some form of it online. The culprits range anywhere from name-calling (with 42% of the population having encountered such), to more severe infarctions such as non-consensual explicit photos (at 7%). On average, children are exposed to adult content at 11 years of age, and 81% of teens that encounter pornography do so unintentionally. There’s an entire population of exploitative groomers out there that have developed a disgusting penchant for taking advantage of impressionable minors. 1 out of 7 children between the ages of 9 and 12 has sent nude photos of themselves online, which is a statistic that I’m frankly better off not thinking about.

It’s important for parents to establish certain ground rules right from the get-go to minimize any harm that comes to their children. Communicating with strangers, or sharing personal information online are definite boundaries that should not be crossed in any way. Children should be taught how to block and report harmful content, or at least communicate with parents when encountering any such content. Parental control apps are getting smarter and more tailored to individual needs by the day; download one and implement it across all home devices.

Take a look at the infographic below from Canopy for more insights:

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