Increase in stress for kids linked to social media

Being a kid in 2016 isn’t what it used to be, a study out of Ontario says today.

The number of 7-12 year olds experiencing moderate to “serious psychological distress” -— symptoms of depression and anxiety — over the last month has jumped from 24 percent to 34 from 2013 to 2015.

The study of 10,000 Ontario teens found that jumped to over 40 percent among high school seniors.

And one in five teens has visited a mental health professional in the last year. And about the same number said they would have talked to someone about the problem, but they didn’t know who to turn to, the CBC reports.

A psychologist, Dr. Corine Carlisle, who was not part of the study, is blaming social media because, she says, other pressures creating stress have always existed in the teenage years.

Carlisle said while the stress of school performance and challenges of family and peer relationships have always existed, she wonders about the added pressures of social media’s constant nature. Young people often go to bed with their phones and have no downtime from social media.

Social media’s power to scrutinize how we look and to permanently publicize embarrassing moments can be a liability if young people forget to live in the moment as they Snapchat it, Carlisle said. That’s why schools and clinics emphasize mindfulness to manage strong emotions before they tip over into distress.

The study, which started as a drug-use survey and now attempts to measure the whole of teen health, said two thirds of the students spend at least three hours a day with their phones or computers. A quarter said they spend less than an hour of week working on homework outside of school.

And one in five has been prescribed an opioid painkiller in the last year. That’s actually good news. About ten years ago, that was more than 40%, perhaps a sign that medical professionals are taking significant steps to curb opioid prescriptions, which have been cited as one of the primary contributing factors in a spoke in heroin use.