December 07, 2017
According to a recently released study, there is a correlation between the amount of time that teenagers spend on their cellphones or digital devices and their likelihood of feeling depressed or having suicidal thoughts. As an expert in the field of child and family social work, Shelley Cohen Konrad, Ph.D., LCSW, FNAP, director of the School of Social Work and the Interprofessional Education Collaborative (IPEC), was interviewed by WCSH about these findings.
“We're seeing more and more kids who are feeling socially isolated," said Cohen Konrad. "There's a huge sea change in terms of what's happening socially, what's happening in terms of attachment and how families function together."
The study, which was conducted by researchers from Florida State University and San Diego State University, investigated the attitudes and behaviors of more than 500,000 teens across three generations dating back to 1991. Looking at the activities that were most linked to depression or suicidal thoughts, researchers found a link between mobile phone use and a rise in depression. Time spent using digital devices was an especially important indicator, as nearly half (48 percent) of teens who spent at least five hours a day on an electronic device reported thinking about or attempting suicide. For teens who only spent an hour a day in front of a screen, this figure dropped to 28%.
Cohen Konrad emphasized the importance of parental involvement, particularly in regard to social media usage by children and teens. “I think it gives kids total access — unless their parents are diligent — to a wide array of things that they are really not developmentally ready for. I think it creates a competitive nature and a materialistic nature — like what is important in life becomes what you have and not what you do," she said.
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