Last night I was up way too late, reading various articles and looking at many different sites relating to depression, anxiety and social media with kids today. To say I was surprised would be an understatement, I was alarmed at the increase of anxiety and depression in our youth and how social media is really one of the BIG factors playing in this whole rise of mental health.
There was an article on The Washington Post website that I found to have the most helpful information. Marco Grados, associate professor of psychiatry and clinical director of child and adolescents psychiatry of Johns Hopkins Hospital, said the following…” With (social media) it’s all about the self image, who’s liking them, who’s watching them, who clicked on their picture”. “Everything can turn into something negative…Kids are exposed to that day after day, and it’s not good for them”. He is absolutely right. When you think of your kids posting an innocent picture, you don’t think about anyone ever turning it into a negative, but the thing is, it happens all the time. Kids put out their best pictures, make their lives look perfect, everything they say or do really is just an illusion of what their life actually is. Reality, that is all that social media has become for them, it is more of a competition than it is sharing their real life. Kids today have lost the ability to speak to one another, it is easier to say mean things over a text or a post than it would be to say to someone’s face. It is no wonder that from 2007 to 2012 there was a 20% increase for anxiety in kids ages 6-17 and depression rose, but at a .2% rate. Anxiety is the leading mental health issue among Americans youth and research suggest it is rising. When you stop to think about what kids deal with every single day, this should not surprise you… They now have seen school shootings, practice lockdowns, and everything in school learning is about being a number. Far more pressure than I ever had to experience as a youth.
Besides social media being a big factor, think about this, today’s world has become so fast paced… Literally kids are going from school, to sports, to music class, or whatever else is going on for them. What happened to family dinners, playing outside in the fresh air, riding bikes (getting exercise), these have been replaced by more technology and lack of supervision with them. As a parent it is our job to make certain things happen. I can honestly say ONE thing my kids always had was family dinners up till the day I moved out. That was important to me and my ex, it was our way of catching up on everyone’s day, a time to share, talk and be together. Today, it still happens in my house, dinner time, is family time.
One thing that really struck me was the statics of depression. I was on a website, Centerfordiscovery.com and on there they had information from suicide.org… Every 100 minutes a teen takes their own life. Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death in young people 15-24. 20% of all teens experience depression before they reach adulthood. Only about 30% are actually being treated. This makes me incredibly sad… Kids should not have to deal with their feelings alone and as parents it is OUR job to make sure they don’t, that they have us or someone else to talk to and that they are being treated by a doctor. I say this so often, but it is all about talking, talking and more talking with our kids. They are in a whole different life than we ever had to be growing up. They have far more pressure, challenges and the technology to go along with it all.
Knowing I have two girls who fall into these statics makes me more passionate about helping them and others. I am learning everyday about each of these subjects, anxiety, depression and social media. There are days when I do feel overwhelmed by it all, but I stop to think about what they must feel like each and everyday… And that gives me the strength to keep moving forward with all that I want to do and accomplish to make things better for them, for all of the kids who struggle each and everyday.
I wanted to add this side note to any parent who is reading this… If you find out a friend of your kids has made some poor choices, please do not keep them away from that other child. Instead, teach your own kid to have empathy, kindness and to think about how it could have been your child. I say this as Press knows some kids can no longer hang out with her and how some parents do not like her anymore. For me, this breaks my heart, what mistakes you make in your life, what health issue(s) you may have, these things do NOT define you as a person. It seems though this is how the world has become, we should not treat each other because of our difficult times, we should be coming together, helping, supporting and being kind.
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