Modern Times Affect Teens’ Mental Health
Trying to pry your teen away from the television, video games, smartphones, tablets, laptops, e-readers, and more can be a full-time job for today’s parents. A teen’s life revolve around media—and they can simply not go on without perusing certain sites to see who is doing what and when. How can they live without knowing what their friends ate for supper, via Facebook?
They can, and they will. In fact, a new study states that they should learn to use media in moderation, for too much screen use leads to lack of sleep and low physical activity, which leads to an increased risk of mental health issues.
Researchers from Sweden conducted a study to see whether these behaviors were linked to mental illness, such as depression, anxiety, conduct problems, and self-destructive behaviors.1 They were.1 In fact, the results showed that teens fall in to one of three risk groups.1
The high-risk group scored high on all examined risk behaviors, making up 13 percent of the study population.1 The low-risk group made up 58 percent of the population and had very low frequency of risk behaviors.1 However, another group, the invisible-risk group made up 29 percent of the study population, and had high-media use, low physical activity, and reduced sleep.1 While these behaviors are not usually associated with mental health issues, the adolescents in this group showed high levels of suicidal thoughts, anxiety, and depression—almost as much as the high-risk group.1
Teen caretakers often overlook these invisible risk factors, as they watch for drug or alcohol use instead; however, too much screen time and not enough sleep and physical activity are just as important to avoid.1 In fact, boys are more likely to experiment with drugs and alcohol, while girls are more likely to lead sedentary, high-media lives.1
Encouraging a good night’s sleep, sports participation, and moderating screen time are all important for a teenager to lead a mentally and physically healthy life.1 Exercise boosts a teenager’s academic performance, as well.1