Teenagers, nowadays, are pretty much attached to their phones and other gadgets. They bring it when they travel, to the dining table while eating, and even in the bathroom for some music. For some parents, it might seem okay. However, without proper guidance and limitations, the overuse of gadgets may lead to addiction, and result in other mental health problems.
In Australia, a longitudinal study was done to assess the impact of teenagers’ use of gadgets day and night, and its direct effect on mental health. The results concluded that too much mobile phone and gadget use had harmed the user’s mental wellness. Their mental wellness has deteriorated in such a way that self-esteem levels are low, the coping ability is not maximized, lack of sleep affects academic performance and intrapersonal performance, and there are larger tendencies to feel depressed.
Given this, experts have informed different high school teachers about too much freedom concerning gadget use may also lead to lack of sleep in addition to the mental health issues we already know. This fact is due to unlimited chatting with friends, texting, and browsing in social media, which in the long run, makes them feel too tired and sleepy to focus and do specific tasks and responsibilities in school or the household. With that, Sandi Lindgren PCC, LICSW advises parents to “limit screen time for younger teens; show interest in them, their ideas, opinions, dreams; engage teens in conversations about choices, relationships, and future plans; and provide opportunities for them to explore their own point of view through conversation without judgment.”
Effect On Mental Health
You may be wondering how exactly does gadget addiction affect mental health? Researchers have continuously proven that too much gadget use and social media can take a toll on children’s mental health, and this is how it happens:
- Lack Of Sleep – Medical research proves that lack of sleep can cause a teenager’s cognitive abilities to be adversely affected. Because of this, one’s thought-processing abilities and memory can slow down, and it can also lead to more mood swings.
- Low Self-Esteem – Because of too much exposure to social media and other gadgets, your teen may experience comparing themselves to society’s standards of beauty. This notion has been a massive issue worldwide because what we see online is usually filtered, and adolescents being vulnerable to peer pressure, may be provoked into thinking that they lack something which their so-called ‘idols’ have.
- Depression – Because of too much gadget use, your children may be too dependent on it that they forget about the real world they’re in. This is very crucial because if they don’t get to experience developmental tasks for their age group, this may lead to different delays in maturity which often leads to isolation and depression.
Christine Hammond, MS, LMHC explains that “The first step in helping you teen is to differentiate between normal teenage behavior and abnormal teenage behavior and address only the abnormal teenage behavior.” With all the facts and figures presented, different psychologists and doctors provide the solution of using curfews for different mobile phone and gadget use. Using curfews as a means of discipline can be a really effective method of training to make your child more responsible, trustworthy, punctual, and holistically healthy. By imposing curfews, your child can practice proper time-management and prioritization, responsible netizenship, and learn to value his or her physical and mental health.
By imposing curfews onto our children, we are teaching them to put boundaries in the different things in life. Linda Esposito, LCSW used to tell parents that “If you master a few core principles for setting rules like a boss, your teen will be a lot easier to manage.” As parents, we must make them understand that curfews exist to put limitations on certain things, and not serve as a hindrance for them to achieve different things. Through proper parenting and creating meaningful relationships with our children, we can help them attain the best possible versions of themselves. After all, the children today are the hope of tomorrow’s future.