Does it seem like your child is constantly on his or her phone? Well, that’s because they practically are. In fact, 24% of teens surveyed by Pew Research Center said they’re “almost constantly online” and 92% of teens report going online daily.

Nurse Rose Melendez, RN, head of the Emergency Department and Nursing Administration at Adventist HelathCare Washington Adventist Hospital, and a mother of three, shares how technology can impact teens’ health. 

Is technology and the internet affecting our kids’ health?

Nurse Rose: For sure. While the internet has lots of positive benefits like supporting education and connecting us with faraway relatives, it can also be harmful for our health if we use it too much – especially for young, impressionable teens.

Some research suggests that kids who use tons of social media, don’t get enough sleep and lead a sedentary lifestyle are in nearly as much danger of developing mental health problems as teens who engage in risky behaviors like too much alcohol, illegal drugs, smoking or skipping school.

What kinds of health problems might young people experience with too much technology use?

Nurse Rose: Too much screen time can create a variety of physical and mental health problems for young people, including:

  • Weight gain due to too much sedentary time behind a screen and not enough physical activity
  • Feelings of loneliness and depression – fear of missing out or “FOMO,” as the kids call it
  • Anxiety and body image issues caused by social compassion
  • Decreased attention span and difficulty learning

How can parents help?

Nurse Rose: Parents can help prevent technology overload by taking these steps.

  • Schedule technology-free family activities
  • Eat dinner together and make a “no phones” rule
  • Set a “technology bedtime” – using a backlit screen before bed prevents restful, restorative sleep
  • Encourage teens to exercise for 30-minutes four to five days per week

Most importantly, set a good example by taking the time to put down your phone or tablet, and really engage with your kids each day.

Is your teen experiencing anxiety, depression or other signs of mental health problems? Request a free phone consult from the experts at Adventist HealthCare Behavioral Health & Wellness Services.


ADDITIONAL HEALTH TIPS FROM ROSE

Hear more health tips from Rose by tuning into WGTS 91.9 FM every Wednesday at 7:40 a.m.