Welcome to the official Newsletter of Advanced Medical Care.
A recent poll found that many parents were worried about their teen's overuse of screens, devices and social media. The annual University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children's Health received responses from more than 2,000 parents.
2 out of 3 Parents are Concerned!
About 2 out of 3 parents reported overuse of devices and screen time and social media as "big problems". About half the parents rated depression, suicide and bullying as "big problems". Junk food and obesity were also areas of concern, but took 2nd place to mental health, screen time and social media concerns.
Critics Scoff at Parent's Concern
Some critics deride these parental concerns as typical of out of control parents that aren't able to let their kids grow up and don't understand that society has changed. They consider this to be unnecessary worrying from parents that are overly protective.
Some of these same critics suggest that kids should be allowed to learn how to regulate their own use of screens and social media to find the balance that works for them.
The Critics Are Ignoring The Facts
Those critics are wrong! Teen mental health is at some of the lowest levels ever seen, and suicide is at all time high levels. Suggesting CHILDREN, whose brains are not fully developed, can teach themselves how to responsibly use a device that WAS DESIGNED to be addictive, is just plain wrong. We don't give our kids cocaine and fentanyl and tell them to figure out how to avoid addiction and overdoses. Nor should parents give kids unfettered access to screens and social media and trust them to find the "right balance."
Currently, 10% of high school age youth spend 7+ hours on social media daily. Many of their parents don't spend that much time at work! That is pretty good evidence that kids need some help from their parents who can establish reasonable boundaries. Parents need to protect and nurture their children and being concerned about screen time and social media is certainly warranted.
Screen Time Goes Up and Mental Health Goes Down
Our teen's mental health has dropped as screen time and social media has increased. The connection between decreased mental health and increased screen time is so obvious and well documented that it is beyond debate.
I know that not every kid is depressed and they won't all attempt suicide, but still, if you are a parent and aren't at least concerned about these issues, you need to become more informed! No children are immune.
Parental Concern is Good News!
The fact that many parents are starting to wake up to this important issue is GOOD NEWS! Focusing on actual causes is good news indeed. Burying your head in the sand has never worked, and only factual awareness of real causes will lead to real solutions.
So let's all celebrate parent's growing awareness of this issue and their recognition of the role that screen time and social media play in this.
Parents Have Lots of Support on This Issue
Now more than ever, experts and leaders are recognizing this danger and giving support to parents that want to protect their children.
United Nations: Schools Should Ban Smart Phones
Recently the United Nations called for a ban on smartphones at schools WORLDWIDE! This report is in the United Nations newly released 2023 Global Education Monitoring Report. This report calls for a ban on smartphones and smartwatches at school, for students of all ages, and they recommend it worldwide.
Academics Improve When Smart Phones are Banned
The United Nations, in their report, note that 1 out of 4 countries already has some type of national ban on smartphones at school, and that Belgium, Spain and the United Kingdom all noted improved academics after banning smartphones and other distracting screens.
The NEA Says the Research is Clear!
The National Education Association has information about this issue on their website. They claim that 76% of schools currently have some type of smart phone ban, which is down from 90% in 2009. Unfortunately many schools that have the ban don't actively enforce it. I have talked to parents that report kids walking down the hallway between classes, with eyes locked on the screen of their phone as they walk. And that is in a school with a ban on phones. No enforcement is the same as no ban.
“The research is clear,” Elizabeth Keren-Kolb says. “Cellphones are a major distraction. Even if the phone is not in use, students have difficulty recalling and retaining information because of the very idea that something can be happening on their phone.”
Schools that have bans cite improving engagment in class as the number 1 reason for the ban. Research shows that academics do improve with smart phone bans, if they are enforced and most importantly, students that aren't doing well before the ban generally show the biggest improvement.
The Surgeon General Issued a Similar Warning
The Surgeon General said:
"...there is growing evidence that social media use is associated with harm to young people’s mental health."
The Surgeon General Urges Us to Act
The Surgeon General went on to say:
"We are in the middle of a national youth mental health crisis, and I am concerned that social media is an important driver of that crisis – one that we must urgently address.”
Parents Can Make a Difference
SCHOOL: Now more than ever, parents need to take decisive action to protect their children at school.
Make your voice heard at school board meetings.
Ensure that your school district bans all distracting screens from the school.
If they aleady have a ban, ensure that it is enforced.
HOME: Parents can set reasonable boundaries to help their children at home. When we were raising our children, smart phones were not an issue. But everybody had a TV in the house. Many families did not allow the kids to watch TV, except on weekends. Of course some kids would occaisonally sneak some TV during the school week, when both parents were gone at the same time. But even with sneaking some extra TV, the kids watched a lot less TV, because parents made and enforced a rule.
Many parents today, tell me they do not feel they can enforce any type of rules about smart phones and social media because it's just too big of a part of today's society. But other parents are enforcing rules and setting boundaries. Parent's that feel overwhelmed may want to use the following talking points with their children, and others, as they establish reasonable and helpful boundaries.
The NEA acknowledges the problem, stating "the research is clear."
Numerous medical studies connect overuse of screen time and social media with mental health problems.
The United Nations recommends a worldwide ban of smart phones at school.
Countries that have national school bans have seen academics improve.
Our Surgeon General describes social media as a threat to our children's mental health and asks us to take urgent action.
Concerned parents, acting wisely and lovingly, can protect their children from the potential dangers associated with improper use of screens and social media.
Take care and BE HEALTHY!
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