Compulsive behaviour and depressed moods are increasingly accompanying teenagers online activities.
The rate at which alarmist articles are published decrying the impact the internet has upon teenagers is enough to induce apathy in many an individual. And while some reports are needlessly sensationalist we should be careful not to ignore debilitating mental conditions arising in youths who are over extending themselves digitally. Two recent reports highlight that digital technology can amplify existing teenage tendencies to the detriment of the youth in question.
One such instance has been labelled ‘Facebook depression':
“”Facebook depression,” in which a teen becomes anxious and moody after spending a lot of time on the popular social networking site. These kids are usually those who have trouble with social interactions in general, Gwenn Schurgin O’ Keefe said. When they find that people aren’t responding to their posts or accepting their friend requests in the online world either, it can be very distressing.”
Digital technologies are an increasingly large part of the social development of teenagers and as the above case shows they can accentuate issues which are already troublesome enough for most teenagers to navigate.
The weight of social factors seems to also be playing a part in some teenagers troubling compulsive attachment to cell phone texting:
“Many teens we heard from said they feel obligated to return texts and calls as quickly as possible, to avoid such tensions and misunderstandings,” the Pew Research Center report said.
In certain circumstances this wouldn’t be terribly troubling but the teenagers in question are letting this obligation encroach upon their sleeping! The above report notes that many teenagers are being admitted to hospital for exhaustion because being inseparable from their SMS social network is interrupting their sleep.
The Children’s Hospital in Boston reports that they are seeing an alarming number of exhausted children admitted for evaluation.
Exclusionary Internet downtime approaches are not the answer however: instead a focus on stronger parenting appears to be the way forward:
“Parents and doctors need to think about the online world like they do the real world, and give kids instruction to navigate it successfully.”