Our lives have certainly been enriched with the advent of technology. In particular, the use of mobile phones have revolutionised our ability to communicate, regardless of time and place. However, although technology provides us with incredible benefits, this doesn’t mean it comes without its drawbacks.
Today, young people are becoming highly addicted to mobile phones. It is this addiction that is driving them away from the “real” world to the “online” world – some of them are obsessed with their online persona, as it gives them a chance to escape reality. This can result in tragedy though. For instance, take a recent case of a 15-year-old girl from north London, who was addicted to the internet and committed suicide, when online users encouraged her to harm herself.
An article published in the Childalert, UK reported that 9 out of 10 children in the UK own a mobile phone. While parents do benefit from the immediate communication they offer – especially considering their busy schedules, in today’s social media generation – a mobile device is not only restricted to ‘calling someone to talk to.’ Thanks to the internet, Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels that are freely available to young people, with a simple click of a button. Teens who spend a lot of time on these social media channels, or on any other technical device, may suffer from depression and anxiety.
Can excessive use of technology really cause depression in teens?
Here is the evidence – “children who spend more time on computers tend to experience higher levels of emotional distress, anxiety and depression,” suggested Public Health England officials to parents.
Public Health England issues guidance on good health to the NHS, UK. The report further revealed that one in ten children now has a mental health issue and a third of teenagers feel low, sad or down at least once a week.
Additionally, Tablets for Schools conducted a survey where 2,228 students (11-17-year-olds) were monitored and they found that almost 40% of pupils sometimes felt addicted to their internet enabled devices.
How can you tackle this?
It’s important to teach your pupils how to use technology safely. Digital technologies have amazing potential to support young people’s learning, fun and creativity, but you need to help them understand the negative side effects of the internet.
- Start a dialogue with your pupil about safe use of technology, help them understand why they should stay away from some specific sites.
- Monitor their hangout places online – get familiar with those websites and allow them to show you their favorite sites.
- Inform them that they should never give out identifying information about themselves, friends or family members, which includes: names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, passwords and credit card numbers.
- You must create a technology “inventory” through which you can check whether they have any access to adult programming, or if parental/teacher controls on the internet browser’s software are enabled.
- Choose an e-safety and user monitoring solution for your school – Securus offers the best system to safeguard your pupils against the wide range of threats they face in the digital age.
- Advise your pupils to confide in a teacher if they face any type of harassment and bullying online.