KICK Midstate announces teens need to be more connected than ever, from peer to parent

KICK Midstate announces teens need to be more connected than ever, from peer to parent

KICK Midstate announces teens need to be more connected than ever, from peer to parent

eNewsChannels NEWS: KICK Midstate, a nonprofit teen depression prevention center, is reaching out to communities in the midstate to provide vital resources as we strive to decrease high rates of depression in adolescents. A recent study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry found that increased exposure to work-based digital technologies — especially among teenagers — correlates with increases in depressive symptoms and suicide risk. The study also found that teens that reported an increased exposure to digital technologies reported 4-5 percentage points higher prevalence of depression than teens that reported no exposure. The results prove the importance of digital communication to teens and the effect it can have on their mental health. Digital communication is now the primary way teens communicate with family and friends.

The Internet and its associated digital technologies, including the Internet of Things, are playing a major role in today’s communication patterns. Tech-savvy, often digitally anxious teens don’t wait for a person to call or e-mail them; they’re communicating with people, and with information, and with technology, whether or not the person is near or in their direct physical vicinity. Data from the IARC shows that by 2020, connected health devices, including portable medical devices and wearables, will number over 50 million in the U.S.

Rates of depression are two to three times higher among adolescents compared to adults, and research suggests that life is becoming more and more digital. Nearly half of American teens use the Internet for school, friends, and social media. Nearly one in three teens who uses the Internet at home uses it for social media during school hours. Nearly one in ten teens between the ages of 13-18 use the Internet to begin to lose sleep.

Online communities are enabling teens to reach out for help when it’s needed the most. A recent study by the Collaborative on Addiction and Credentialing Research found that teens are using communication technologies in different ways to reach out for help, resulting in community support at various times throughout the day, and “interval models of services” connecting individuals as they need it at different points throughout the day. In this way, teens have an opportunity to develop the skills they need to reach out for support.

Surprisingly, surveys have shown that even though teens feel confident and open about their mental health problems, they also perceive their peers as cold, distant, and unsupportive, even with therapy. This is directly related to the fact that many teens have little or no interpersonal experience prior to leaving home. Much of the communication skills teens need to deal with challenging situations are not yet developed as they get ready to transition into adulthood, including talking with a peer, resolving conflict, coping with anxiety, or dealing with tough situations and emotions.

Across the Board — from peer to parent — advice for teens is to develop social skills. Unfortunately, many teens are not developing these skills, which results in a feeling of isolation, anxiety, depression, and social isolation.

Here are some ways parents can talk to teens about connecting with their peers, developing social skills, and preventing mental health problems.

• Chat every day: The average number of conversations kids have on the Internet is 15 times per day. Encourage your teen to use the Internet to interact with peers every day.

• Text and IM: Messages on the Internet are often anonymous. The average texting time per teen is 23 minutes per day, and 50 percent of teens now communicate with friends via text. Encourage your teen to talk to their peers via text and chat.

• Skype: Kids are more likely to keep in touch with their peers online than in person, whether or not they are physically near one another. If your teen cannot wait to see their friend in person, encourage them to Skype with their friends.

• Group texting: Group texting is ideal for staying in touch with one or more teens, and many teens are tempted to group text due to the novelty. Instruct your teen to check if the text message has a subject line saying what is being said so they can decide whether or not to text.

Find more information about how to help teens in crisis or prevention at http://www.kickmidstate.org/.

More information can be found online at: http://www.kickmidstate.org…

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