Moderating our kids’ screen time is a modern-day parenting struggle. One intends to turn their heads away from facing any sort of digital screen, yet, all we manage to do is to deflect the gaze to another digital screen at hand’s length. You switch off the television, they will glue their face to a laptop or a tablet. You limit the time for that form of screen exposure, they will proceed to watch something or play a game on a mobile phone. However, a new research has further added to our list of worries associated with excessive digital content consumption.

The Time magazine quoted a study published in Preventive Medicine Reports that says young people who spend seven hours or more a day on screens are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression or anxiety than those who use screens for an hour a day. Such excessive screen time is uncommon in much younger kids because parents still manage to exert some kind of authority over a certain age group. The concern is also bigger, as you feel your child’s eyesight or overall well-being from neglecting other physical activity is at serious risk. So parents make active efforts to limit the screen time of younger kids.

But when it comes to young adults, parent have very little or almost no say in this matter. Eventually, when persistence, blackmail, incentives and even threats fail, parents just give up. What else can one do? Throw the router out of the window? Declare digital curfew in the household? But then how long does that last?

SOME TAKEAWAYS

  • According to a new study, young people who spend seven hours or more a day on screens are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression or anxiety.
  • These results further add to our list of worries associated with excessive digital content consumption.
  • However, it also says that such excessive consumption is uncommon in younger kids. But some 20 percent of the kids aged between 14 and 17 do have seven hours or more of screen time. 

If this study is to be believed, then some 20 percent of the kids aged between 14 and 17 do have seven hours or more of screen time. Apart from being at risk of depression and anxiety, such children also get easily distracted and are less emotionally stable. They also struggle more with finishing tasks and making friends, compared to those who spend just an hour a day on screens. This means that excessive screen time affects not just developing teens’ mental health but their social well-being.

So, what does one do when all attempts to disengage a headstrong teen from a digital screen are unsuccessful? The first step would be to acknowledge that your child has a problem. Many parents live in denial of the extent of digital addiction of their children, partly because it comes across as a parenting failure. Also, with their raging hormones and our perennially peaking stress levels, confrontations may not seem like a good idea. But if parents really want to help their children, then they need to discuss with their children why their excessive screen time is worrying.

Many parents live in denial of the extent of digital addiction of their children, partly because it comes across as a parenting failure.

Secondly, when things are unmanageable at parental level, there is no harm in seeking professional help. Parents should remember what is on the line here – a child’s mental, social and overall well-being. Hence they should keep all the stigma associated with mental health at bay and seek professional help. Parents must also remember that anxiety and depression are not lost battles. If your child is showing these symptoms, then it doesn’t mean you’ve been a bad parent. Mental health issues among young adults are common these days, and there is very little we can do to control most of its triggers. Just try to look at it as yet another struggle you must face as a parent.

Pic Credit: TeenLife

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Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section.  The views expressed are the author’s own.

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