What are Effects of Technology on Children’s Mental Health?

Is too much screen time a risk factor for your children’s mental health? Yes, it is.

Do social media affect children’s mental health in negative ways? Well, maybe not.

Too much screen time risks children’s mental health

Results from academic researches seem to confirm that too much use of smartphone, tablet and other mobile devices will present a risk factor to children’s mental health.

Just an hour a day staring at a screen can be enough to make children more likely to be anxious or depressed. This could be making them less curious, less able to finish tasks, less emotionally stable and lowering their self-control.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommend less than one to two hours of entertainment screen time per day for children and discourage the use of any screen media by children under two years of age.

Another study suggests that high screen time is significant positively correlated with anxiety, depression, psychopathological symptoms and poor sleep quality. It is interesting to note that researchers suggest that in addition to reducing screen time, we can also control for children’s mental issues by increasing their physical activities.

How do social media affect children’s mental health?

There seems to be mixed findings from researchers.

On one hand, the use of social media benefits children’s growth. Social media sites allow teens to accomplish online many of the tasks that are important to them offline: staying connected with friends and family, making new friends, sharing pictures, and exchanging ideas. Social media uses also provide enhanced learning opportunities, allowing middle and high school students to connect with one another on homework and group projects.

Some studies have indicated that social media use may be tied to negative mental health outcomes, including suicidality, loneliness and decreased empathy. Other studies have not found evidence for harm, or have indicated that social media use may be beneficial for some individuals.

One researcher stated that, with the exception of vaguebooking, concerns regarding social media use may be misplaced.


Sources consulted:

  • Council on Communications and Media. (2013). Children, adolescents, and the media. Pediatrics, 132, 958-961.

  • Low Physical Activity and High Screen Time Can Increase the Risks of Mental Health Problems and Poor Sleep Quality among Chinese College Students. PLoS One. 2015; 10(3): e0119607.

  • The Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents, and Families. Pediatrics April 2011, 127 (4) 800-804; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2011-0054.

  • Social Media Use and Mental Health among Young Adults. Psychiatric Quarterly volume 89, pages307–314(2018).

GenPsych PC has an outpatient youth program (ages 8-12) which offers both Partial Care treatment as well as Intensive Outpatient Programming. This program aims to help children struggling with various issues such as anxiety, depression, defiance, anger and more. Our multidisciplinary approach allows us to reach these children on a more thorough level, leading to widespread change in areas such as self-esteem, behavioral issues and family dynamics. For more information, please click to visit Children’s Program web page and Adolescent Program web page.


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