New study shows possible link between electronics and depression in teenagers

Posted at 5:47 PM, Nov 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-16 18:56:17-05

A study published just this week in the journal Clinical Psychological Science finds that increased time spent with electronic devices might have contributed to an uptick in symptoms of depression and suicidal thoughts over the last several years among teens, especially young girls. 

The research team found an increase in suicidal thoughts based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which showed an increase in suicide deaths among teens from 1,386 in 2010 to 1,769 in 2015.

Charity Hernandez's family is a big one, with seven kids ranging from two to 19 years old.

"Everyone has their own phone, their own tablet, their own computer, their own something!" said Hernandez.

Hernandez said her kids aren't glued to their screens, but they do tend to check their electronic devices daily.

"They're trying to find out what everybody else is doing and if they see that they're not doing it or they didn't get invited, yes, for the kids, I think it does bother them a lot," said Hernandez. 

"Not for me but I've seen it with other people. Seeing people called out," said 12-year-old Gimena Hernandez, Charity's daughter. "Somebody's talking about my friends and they've told me that they're sad."

Susan Mathis is a counselor at Pathway Counseling Center in Waco. She specializes in depression and wasn't surprised by the connection made by the report.

"People will make far more negative comments about how you look and how acceptable you are when they're at a distance and they don't have any consequences," said Mathis.

Mathis said aside from cyberbullying, social media can also damage a child's self-esteem since they often compare themselves to the seemingly perfect images they see online.

"They look and feel as though they're intimidated by 'oh, I don't measure up' with what someone else might look like or the pictures they post," said Mathis. 

Mathis said parents should limit their child's screen time or check up on their social media to see what they're up. They should also make sure certain privacy settings are turned on for apps like Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and Facebook. 

"As long as you're in my house, anytime I ask you for your phone, I want to see your phone. Let me see it and we'll go through there," said Hernandez. "That's the way I do it at my house."

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