Today’s kids are inundated with social media updates, the prevalence of internet-related activities, the ease of everything at their fingertips, etc. Though technology has so many benefits and the use of it is not wrong, there is a direct correlation between an increase and technology and a decrease in positive mental health.
In a powerful article, “The Epidemic of Anxiety Among Today’s Students” by Mary Ellen Flannery, she discusses the facts – children today are considerable more stressed, anxious, and overwhelmed than ever before.
Here are two short excerpts that explain the underlying issue:
“By high school, high-achieving students face overwhelming pressure to succeed—and their parents aren’t always helpful…
The other issue is social media. A study published in Clinical Psychological Science points to the development of something very troubling in the lives of U.S. teens between 2010 and 2015. During those five years, the number of teens who felt ‘useless and joyless’ surged 33 percent. The number of 13- to 18-year-olds who committed suicide jumped 31 percent.”
In the article Flannery also mentions Jean Twenge, a San Diego State University professor who details the issue in a Washington Post column: an increase in the suicide rate is directly related to an increase in smartphone usage.
So what does that mean for us as educators?
Honestly, we are faced with a huge challenge. We have to find a way to reduce cell phone/internet usage and make schools a safe zone from the constant updates, comparisons, and anxieties that come from instantaneous communication, social media over-usage, and online anonymity (bullying).
Students are already filled with so much pressure – from family, sports, activities, classroom success, friends, etc. The last thing they need is to be distracted from all of that pressure with something that tends to be even more negative. As teachers, our jobs is to integrate technology in healthy ways, while still reducing the overall usage.
Kids need a break.
We must help them unplug.