Digital Screens and Mental Health for Children

Digital Screens and their Impacts on Development and Mental Health for Children
Posted on 03/07/2024
Woman on cell phone

Younger Children (5-12 years)

When children engage in age-appropriate programs, watched with parents, the experience can be immersive and informative. Screen media can improve children’s academic performance, enrich knowledge and literacy skills and help develop positive relationships with teachers and peers.

Key considerations for younger children

  • Try to reduce tv and digital screen use as high amounts of screen time can increase behaviour concerns, symptoms of depression and lower levels of physical activity later in children.
  • Try to reduce unsupervised screen time to reduce the risk of exposure to negative or harmful content. Children are overconfident about being able to protect themselves online.
  • Media multitasking (dividing attention between two or more devices) can make learning difficult.

Adolescents (13-19years)

For older children, friendship is the leading motivator for using online technologies. Texting, instant messaging and social networking helps fulfill a developmental “need to belong”, and positive effects on well-being have been reported with moderate screen use (around 2 to 4 hours per day). It’s important to remember that online communication can help isolated or socially anxious adolescents make connections with peers and new contacts.

Key considerations for adolescents

  • Set family rules that set establish expectations and time limits for screen time. Studies have shown that more than six hours a day of screen time can lead to feelings of depression in teens.
  • Media multitasking has been linked to lower English and math scores, weaker working memory, lower sustained attention, and greater impulsivity in adolescents.
  • The adolescent brain is still learning to control impulses, regulate emotions and assess risks and consequences; therefore, adolescents may be developmentally predisposed to take risks online.
  • Consider the 4M’s strategies for teens and screen use.
Website by SchoolMessenger Presence. © 2024 SchoolMessenger Corporation. All rights reserved.