Nowadays, every child has access to a computer, and many have access to one freely at home. What their parents do not know, is that exposure to long periods of web-use has been proven to increase risks of mental health issues.
With that said, if your child is spending his/her evening glued to a computer screen, from the moment they get home, to the moment they go to bed (with the exception of when you force them to rejoin humanity at dinner time), then you may be permitting them to access the roots of an unhealthy life as an adult.
The days of playing on streets and running after ice-creams vans has long since evaporated. Now, children have iPads and all the latest technology. However, this can lead to a number of problems, such as loneliness, depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and heightened aggression.
Studies have now shown a clear relationship between the amount of time spent on social media websites, such as Facebook and Tumblr, with decreased levels of “well-being”. This correlation is particularly evident in children who spend more than four hours a day in front of a screen. However, it is apparent with even the low levels of internet-time.
The results of computers have flipped progression on its back, with one in ten children now suffering with a mental health issue, and one third of teenagers feeling “sad, low or down” at least once every week.
The internet gives gateways for children to become involved in online bullying, and forums for suicidal thoughts, self-harm and anorexia. Tallulah Wilson, a 15 year-old girl threw herself onto a train-track in 2012. Her death was linked to her addiction to photo-sharing websites, where fellow users encouraged self-harm. She had also created an online persona to escape from her true identity, and the lines between reality and fantasy became “blurred”.
The internet is not the only culprit however, mental health issues are also linked to computer games and TV screens. The outcome of the matter, is that every hour spent behind a screen, increases the likelihood of socio-economic problems and low self-esteem. This is caused by a lack of interaction, and also content being viewed – many screens do not account for verification policies which means children can easily access adult themes.
Melissa from MLS says “with the corrosion of mental health in children becoming stronger, it is something that needs to be addressed swiftly. The internet allows for a number of different social and mental problems, and can also promote them on particular sights. Parents should always be aware of what their children are doing, and social media websites should be avoided at an early age. 85% of children over 13 are now registered on social networking sights, which is an unhealthy amount! Instead, children should be encouraged to play outside or go to after-school clubs, and parents should stop supplying them with the latest technology to use whenever they wish, with no adult supervision.”
Who knows, in years to come there may be an enormous lawsuit claiming against the internet for all its participation in death and personal injuries! But for now, we must do our best to protect our children against it.