Screens and Mental Health

In the past 15 years, the number of teens who hang out with friends every day was cut in half. Most of the decline took place since 2010.

At the same time (and taking into the account not just this but everything I mentioned in the previous posts), rates of anxiety and depression amongst teens skyrocketed. Studies show that absolutely every single activity you can do online correlates with higher degrees of unhappiness. The more time you spend off-screen doing absolutely anything whatsoever, the higher your rates of satisfaction with your life are.

The risk of depression for teens who have an active social media presence is dramatically higher than for those who don’t. But it doesn’t work the other way around. Being depressed doesn’t lead to more social media use. (It’s exactly the same in adults, too. One study after another shows that, after you get through the initial withdrawal symptoms, there is nothing better you can do for your mental health non-medically than quitting social media. So if you are anxious or depressed, lock up the phone for a month.)

Two+ hours of screens increase a teen’s suicide risk. When it gets past 3 hours a day, the risk begins to spike and gets dramatic once you get past 5 hours a day.

Teenagers today are experiencing an unprecedented mental health crisis. Everybody who works with this age group will confirm this for you but there are also studies up the wazoo. And this is in times of peace and prosperity. What if there was actual adversity this already extremely psychologically vulnerable generation experienced?