We tag, recommend, up-vote, like and live-stream every part of our lives. And teenagers are doing it more than anybody. Problem is, all that screen time is making them miserable.
According to a new study conducted on 1 million teenagers in the U.S. over the course of 25 years, the more teens increased overall screen time, social media engagement and time spent on their smartphones, the more their happiness, self-esteem and quality of life declined. Participants’ psychological wellbeing was affected by both changes in screen time and time spent engaging in non-virtual situations.
In short, the more time teens spend on their smartphones and the less time they spend engaging with friends and loved ones and doing real-life activities, the worse they feel about themselves, and about life in general.
One Hour of Instagram a Day Keeps the Doctor Away?
Not exactly, but the study results showed that completely eliminating screen time isn’t the cure-all for this complex issue. Like it or not, social media, smartphones, and live-streaming are here to stay, and cutting these things out of a teen’s life can create a lot of damage and social isolation.
Like with most things in life, the key lies in moderation. One hour of screen time per day seems to be the sweet spot that leads to healthy and happy children, allowing them to socialize, connect, share and explore, while leaving space for a balanced and fulfilling life away from smart devices.
If limiting a kid’s screen time to just one hour is unsustainable, start with simple, easy steps to decrease time spent online. Implement a no-phones-at-the-table rule for dinner, and introduce family activities and new hobbies that don’t involve being glued to a device. Encourage your children to spend more time outside with their friends, creating in-person bonding experiences instead of virtual ones.