Nearly half of teens admit to being online constantly, according to the 2022 Teens, Social Media and Technology study by PEW Research Center.
Since 2019 teen depression and anxiety has doubled, many experts blame the increase of screen-time as part of the cause.
Is your teen experiencing:
–Depression, sadness, anxiety
-Withdrawn, avoiding family events
-Cell-phone addiction, video gaming
–Angry, defiant, explosive
-Vaping, smoking pot, drinking (self-medicating)
-Skipping classes, school refusal
–Failing, when capable of passing
-Changing peer groups, or isolating themselves
-Change in eating and sleeping patterns
The truth is depression, anxiety and other teenage mental health disorders were serious concerns long before 2019. The pandemic only lifted the covers off of the mental health crisis our teens are facing.
3 Common Causes of Teenage Mental Health Concerns
1. Technology (screen-time)
There’s no doubt that there are many positive aspects to being connected online to friends and family, as well as using your device as an educational tool — however extensive use of social media or video gaming also carries risks.
Experts say risks increase when adolescents obsess about gaining “likes” on their posts and make comparisons between their own physical appearance or life circumstances and that of others. The fear of missing out (FOMO) online is also a very real emotional concern of teens today. This can lead to anxiety, depression, and even thoughts of suicide.
It’s imperative that young people learn about a healthy relationship with technology and find a balance with the time they spend online. If you haven’t implemented a technology agreement yet, it’s time to do so.
2. Bullying and Cyberbullying
Never underestimate the power of words that can emotionally wound a child, especially a teenager that may already be struggling with self-worth. Bullying can cause feelings of rejection, exclusion, isolation, low self-esteem, and some individuals can develop depression and anxiety as a result. In some cases it can even develop into Acute Stress Disorder or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
With cyberbullying it can be more cruel and hateful since it spreads not only throughout the school, but your community and globally. It’s literally worldwide humiliation. With the anonymity of social media, it’s made it easier for peers to engage in malicious pranks and even sexting scandals in both middle schools and high schools that have crisscrossed our nation.
Studies have found adolescents who experience cyberbullying are about twice as likely to engage in self-harm, including attempted suicide, as those who do not experience such bullying.
Learn more about how to give your teen the tools to prevent cyberbullying.
3. Substance Abuse
Drug dealers have turned to the internet and social media apps like TikTok, Snap Chat and Instagram to find new customers; teenagers. This is causing youth drug deaths to soar.
Social media is almost exclusively how teens and young adults are getting illicit pills now, and about 90% of these pills contain fentanyl. And with features like encryption and disappearing messages on the most popular apps, their use for selling drugs keeps growing.
Substance-abusing youth are at higher risk than nonusers for mental health problems, including depression, conduct problems, personality disorders, suicidal thoughts, attempted suicide, and suicide.
If your family has a history of substance abuse, your teen is at higher risk for addiction.