According to research, kids are less happy than they used to be. Depression in kids is on the rise, and doctors are searching for answers. New studies reveal a distinct connection between screen time and depression in kids.
Students were asked questions about their screen habits, social interactions, and their overall happiness. The students who spent more than 2 hours a day in front of screens reported being the most unhappy. The more screen time they spent, the unhappier they became. Those who spent less than 2 hours of screen time were the happiest and at the lowest risk for depression and other mental health issues. Eliminating screen time altogether didn’t help, but limiting screen time to a healthy amount resulted in the most balanced, happiest kids.
Risks for both depression and suicide
Spending 5 or more hours a day online raises a child’s likelihood of developing mental health issues by 71%. They are at high risk for both depression and suicide. While this may sound like a lot of hours, kids spend, on average, 6.5 hours with screens each day, putting most kids at extreme risk.
Fighting depression face-to-face
One of the most significant differences between these two groups was the amount of face-to-face interaction they had. Time spent in front of screens is largely isolated alone time. Screens are replacing healthy relationships. Kids need real experiences and conversations. They need to be active and spend time doing a variety of engaging activities.
Kids who spend quality time with friends and family just 3 times a week are happier and healthier. Both exercise and face-to-face interaction with others have been proven to increase happiness and combat depression.
What can parents do?
Psychologists and doctors recommend implementing these strategies to prevent depression in kids.