BLOG: How smartphones and social media are effecting children

We know smartphones are a large distraction in the classroom, but the psychological toll that these devices have on our youth is a growing problem that can have dire consequences on a child’s mental health.

When students were surveyed asking if they felt obligated to constantly be on social media
most agreed they did. They felt they needed to keep up with their friends and what they were doing.

With constant posts, pictures, check-ins and stories being posted to social media, it paints a picture of perfect and happy lives. But, we know no one has the “perfect life” and we know everyone struggles with their own unique ups and downs, –but “the downs” are never broadcasted on the internet, giving the illusion that not everyone is struggling. “What is wrong with me?” one might ask. “I am struggling and it seems no one else is. Everyone else is active and happy and always enjoying life.”

Are students jumping on social media with the intent of comparing their lives to others? Are they trying to find a way to feel bad about themselves? Probably not. But, it’s human nature to compare. We place value on the cool stuff we have, the awesome things we’re doing, and the amazing places we’re going. We feel obligated to show our “friends” the positive aspects of our lives while simply leaving out the negative.

So here leaves our students…absorbing all this “information”. Making them constantly question if they are good enough. Thoughts like these are easily brewed into feelings of anxiety and depression.

Studies have found over 70% of teens feel anxious or depressed due to smartphones. While older students have reported they realize they need a break from social media and will delete apps or shut off their phones, younger students need help taking these breaks. Some schools have taken up banning cell phones on campus but many find it hard to do so. Often assignments and grades are posted online so students are constantly checking into them. While online they find it too tempting not to respond to the dozens of messages they have received. Having so much new information popping up, they feel pressured into addressing every single one. It’s addicting in a way. Once you look at one message you feel guilty not reading the other ones.

In order to help young students from becoming too caught up and overwhelmed by smartphones and social media, many parents are agreeing to hold off on the purchase of cellphones until their children are at least in 8th grade in a movement called ‘Wait until 8th’. This program ensures the majority of children in your child’s grade will not have smartphones so no one feels left out. This is a small step forward in preventing students from becoming overcome by the social media craze at such an early age…and hopefully keeping our student’s mental health in check a little longer.

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