Study shows technology use can cause signs of depression in children, pediatrician offers advice

Health Check

LAWRENCE, Kan. (KSNT) – As coronavirus cases rise in the area, more students are going back to online classes. This could lead to more screen time, and too much technology can have serious side effects on children.

In a study for the Journal of Experimental Psychology, 125 students reported that the more time they spent on technology, the more they felt symptoms of depression, like lost interest, loneliness, difficulty concentrating and fatigue.

“If your kiddos are using more than two hours of that stuff, I think that’s a bad sign right there,” said Dr. Waco Goodnight, a pediatrician with Panda Pediatrics in Lawrence.

The first step, Goodnight said, is to identify if your children have a real problem with technology by seeing if they need to use it during dinner or at night, and if they are using it for more than two hours in a day.

To try to wean your kids off of using their technology so often, Goodnight suggested putting it in a place they cannot get to and telling them that. If they are aware it is not around them and they cannot use it, Goodnight said they’re more likely to find something else to concentrate on.

“They’ve had students keep a phone in their pocket, silenced, and they can’t have access to it, and they have them take a test,” Goodnight said of a previous study performed. “They do just as bad as if they could turn the phone on and go through Facebook while they’re in a test.”

Speaking of social media, Goodnight said to try to limit kids as much as possible to it due to the harm it can cause, like cyberbullying or learning things they should not for their age.

“There is no health benefit there at all,” Goodnight said. “I get learning to some extent, pandemic stuff we have to do screen time despite it, but your kid doesn’t need social media.”

Not all technology is bad, Goodnight said, and good things can come from it. However, it must be limited.

“You just do the best you can every day,” Goodnight said. “Some days you’re going to give more screen time than you wanted to or that guidelines said, especially this year. I think it’s just important that we as parents know those things.”

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