We can’t really address the effects of technology on teens without touching on social media, so let’s get right to it.
High school, middle, and elementary school students are part of the social media generation. They’ve had the privilege of having access to this technology their whole lives.
Regardless of your personal opinion on how tech, teens, and social media interact, here are a few interesting facts you should know.
- Two-thirds of teens have access to smartphones.
- Ninety percent of teens have at some point used social media.
- The average teen spends roughly nine hours a day on the internet, excluding time spent doing homework.
Owing to its prevalence and easy access, social media has opened the floodgates for a wave of new challenges. From cyberbullying to mental health issues resulting from online comparison, body image issues, materialism, and self-worth.
For teens, it is almost impossible to avoid the influence of social media, and with an increase in safety concerns in schools. Most districts have opted to allow students access to their phones throughout the day.
According to experts in the field, tech isn’t inherently bad; the majority of problems arise in how we interact with it.
On most metrics, access to tech has been instrumental in improving the educational system by improving teacher-student engagement, streamlining communication with parents and stakeholders, and presenting information in a more tactful and engaging manner. Tech is a double-edged sword, with both the power to enhance meaningful collaboration by providing access to positive social groups, as well as suffocating young minds with irrelevant information, unrealistic imagery, and other distractions that rob them of their peace.
We also can’t ignore the correlation between the rise in mental health cases and teenage suicides with the rise in technology. Anxiety is now the most widespread mental health issue among teens, with up to 62% of undergraduate students admitting they have felt an “Overwhelming anxiety.”
What Does This All Mean For Teens’ Mental Health?
Schools ought to consider an all-inclusive approach that neither labels tech as good or bad nor out rightly banish it. Parents and educators have a responsibility to monitor their kids’ interactions with tech and guide them on constructive uses while dissuading them from the destructive side of tech.
Modern education has already embraced technology for far too long for us to ignore. The same is true of the rising cases of teenage mental health issues. Together with mindfulness practice, education, and the proper tools, our students need to understand that tech can be one of the many toxic substances created. The way it has become part of our lives is out of our control, but we have a choice in how we interact with it. We have a choice in our commitment to improving access to counseling and mental health resources in our schools; also in our roles as adults to lead the conversation on mental health and create safe spaces to help those afflicted.