The Lock Connecting Brains and Phones

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Kate McKinnis, Reporter

Many teens will spend many hours on their phones. However, what they may not realize is that this time looking at a screen can severely  impact their mental health.

According to researchers from Florida and San Diego state universities, “teens that spend up to five or more hours on their phone have experienced suicidal thoughts, prolonged periods of sadness and hopelessness.”

Not only have many teens been depressed, but the increase of teenage girls who face depression is astonishing. The percentage has risen by 65% since 2010, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to slow down.

“These increases in mental health issues among teens are very alarming. Teens are telling us they are struggling, and we need to take that very seriously,” said study author Jean Twenge, an SDSU psychology professor.

Not only is suicide high in the US, but the rates in La Plata County are the highest in the state. In the last few years Durango has lost many lives to suicide and many are trying to figure out how to help these kids. Many of the students who the county has lost over the years had a lot of things happening behind the phone.

“Smartphones are a great thing. They allow me to communicate with friends and family with a touch of a few buttons. But because of these devices we lose almost all social connection to the outside world. Also, the amount of time an average student is on their phone is outrageous,” said Fr. Sydney Standridge.

Not only do phones have a huge impact on the social connection with people, but social media does too. Many people will post the best parts about their life on social media. Very rarely do people ever show things that are negative.

“If you are sitting there watching pictures of people having fun, scrolling through your feed, it can make you feel really lonely,” said licensed psychologist Doug Miller.

In recent studies evidence shows that between 2010 and 2015, depression rates in girls has increased by 65%. Not only can this be linked to the amount of time spent looking at a screen, but also the social interaction between peers. Many girls will brag on social media causing conflict between others.

“Teens feel they have to live up to a certain image on social media sites–in their appearance and how they present who they are leading to feelings of not being adequate, self-esteem issues, and anxiety. Also, teens can feel socially isolated and withdrawn by always being connected to technology, rather than having in person interactions,” said counselor Katie Brandau.

Not only can peers recognize when of their peers might be depressed, they can help intervene. There are very common symptoms of depression such as, constantly tired, feeling of worthless, not hungry, and many other things.

“If students are experiencing symptoms of depression including but not limited to: repetitively feeling tired and not having energy, even after a good night’s rest; not enjoying activities or hobbies they once did; feeling sad or depressed every day for two weeks, then they should get help. Teens need people to talk to, so you can help by noticing changes in your friend’s mood, behavior, and energy levels. You can seek help from your school counselor, myself, or Mr. Hembree, or a teacher you trust. Letting your family know is a good idea, or talking with a trusted adult,” said Brandau.