Do you have a smartphone? How about your children? According to the Pew Research Center, regardless of family income, more than one in three U.S. teens carried a smartphone in 2012. Among youth who have smartphones, rarely are they seen without it.
Cell phones are teens' No. 1 means of communication and connectedness. For many, it's the first thing they go to in the morning and the last thing they put down at night. Young people use their smartphones to access the Internet, text, tweet, take and post photos, play games, listen to music and socialize. What impact does this have on our children?
The Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Seneca, Sandusky and Wyandot Counties learned from Know! that a recently released study found overuse of smartphones among youth appeared to result in youth having more problematic behaviors, including anxiety, depression, difficulty maintaining attention and concentration. Other risk factors for smartphone overuse may be obesity and lack of quality sleep.
Know! offers signs that signal trouble:
If your child feels the "need" to immediately respond to every text and social media update.
If your child is constantly checking his/her phone, even when it's not signaling.
If your child can't head to the bathroom or go to bed without his/her phone.
If the thought of being without his/her phone causes great anxiety.
If your child is losing focus in the classroom and his/her grades are beginning to slip.
As a parent or guardian, you can set limits such as:
Help your child determine why they constantly check their phone and lead him/her to healthier outlets.
Require your child to turn off alert signals.
Make it a rule that the phone is put away while doing homework, during dinner, and turned off altogether at bedtime.
If texting is an issue while driving, remove the phone completely and suspend driving privileges for a reasonable amount of time for their and others' safety.
Your child won't be grateful for limiting or losing their phone privileges, but a temporarily unhappy child sure beats what the alternative could be!
The Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Seneca, Sandusky and Wyandot Counties is committed to sharing information and resources for better mental health and the prevention of substance abuse. It now has a website, www.mhrsbssw.org, and a link to Facebook. If you would like more information, please call the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Seneca, Sandusky and Wyandot Counties at (419) 448-0640 between the hours of 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays. The board's hotline is available 24/7 at (800) 826-1306.