The Impacts of Technology on Children and their Mental Health

In today’s tech-driven world,  technology offers undeniable benefits, however we must not ignore its concerning impact on mental health, especially among children.

The rise in screen time and social media use among children has been linked to a surge in mental health issues, affecting their social skills and overall well-being. This intricate relationship between screen time and mental health emphasizes the importance of a balanced approach to technology usage. Prioritizing the holistic health and development of our younger generations requires us to address these challenges proactively as we navigate the digital landscape.

Throughout this blog post we will discuss the impacts that technology can have on today’s youth.

Positives and Negatives of Technology on Children’s Mental Health

Technology offers many positive influences on children’s mental health. Some including:

  • Access to Information and Education: Technology offers children instant access to abundant educational resources, fostering learning, intellectual growth, and cognitive skills.
  • Enhancing Social Connections: Digital platforms, like social media and messaging apps, facilitate children’s connections with friends, family, and peers, promoting social support, alleviating loneliness, and fostering positive interactions.
  • Creativity and Self-expression: Digital tools like art platforms and music software empower children to creatively express themselves, boosting self-esteem and feelings of achievement.

While technology does offer benefits for children, it also brings forth significant challenges to their mental well-being. Some negative effects of technology include:

  • Excessive Screen Time: Excessive screen time, especially on smartphones, tablets, and computers, correlates with adverse mental health effects like sedentary behaviour, sleep disruption, and heightened anxiety and depression risk.
  • Cyberbullying and Online Harassment: Children encountering cyberbullying and online harassment may suffer psychological distress, diminished self-esteem, and social isolation, exacerbated by the anonymity afforded by technology.
  • Social Comparison and Body Image Concerns: Continuous exposure to idealized images and lifestyles on social media can prompt children to compare themselves, fostering body image worries and feelings of inadequacy.

Impacts of Screen Time on Mental Health / Recommendations

As children grow older, screen time becomes increasingly integrated into their lives. Tablets for homework and smartphones for socializing are common. Yet, it’s vital to emphasize breaks from screens, as excessive use can affect mental well-being. 

Too much screen time can lead to sensory overload, hindering focus and causing mental exhaustion. This may manifest in anger outbursts and even violent behaviour. It’s crucial to be aware of these effects on your child’s mental health. Some of these effects include:

  • Anxiety and Depression
  • Deprived Sleep
  • Developmental Delays and Learning
  • Short Term Memory Loss and Decline in Cognitive Ability

Research has found that pediatric doctors recommend the following guidelines for children’s screen time:

  • Children aged two and below should have no screen time.
  • Kids aged 2 to 4 should limit screen time to no more than one hour per day.
  • Children aged six to 18 should aim for no more than two hours of screen time daily.

How to Promote a Healthy Balance with Technology

  • Reduce Phone Use
  • Emphasize Enough Sleep, a Nutritious Diet, and Exercise
  • Stay Away From Screens During Mealtime, Bedtime, or Family Time
  • Encourage Physical Activity
  • Set Limits
  • Model Healthy Habits
  • Encourage Face-to-Face Interaction
  • Have Open Conversations About the Effects That Technology Can Have

Technology has revolutionized the way we live, but it comes with its own set of challenges for mental health. Setting boundaries and promoting a healthy balance of technology can aid in helping children disconnect from the digital world and maintain a healthy balance between technology and mental well-being.