Between 2010 and 2015 the number of teens reporting feelings of uselessness and lack of joy increased 33 percent in large national surveys. Teen suicide attempts increased 23 percent while actual suicides between 13 to 18-year-olds increased 31 percent. A significant trend. What could account for such dramatic increases?
A November 17, 2017 post in The Conversation by Jean Twenge identifies the likely culprit as "the sudden ascendance of the smartphone." Extensive research concluded that suicide risk factors such as depression, thinking about suicide, making a plan or attempting suicide correlated with time spent online. Essentially, the more time online, the higher the suicide risk. Screen time of 2 or more hours a day appears to increase the risk significantly.
Is there anything that can be done to reverse this trend? Hasn't the train already left the station? What if my children are already deeply ingrained in smartphone use, and it's not a battle I want to get into?
Fortunately, we're not starting from scratch here. There are numerous initiatives and online resources dedicated to bringing sanity and vitality to teens without totally taking away their smartphones. However, changes WILL need to be made in order to decrease suicide risks.
We heard an amazing presentation by Melanie Hempe, RN at NARME (National Association of Relationship and Marriage Educators) this past July. She is the founder and president of Families Managing Media. Their website is packed with extremely helpful information and inspiration. Their 3 step ReThink, ReSet and ReConnect is exactly what has helped thousands regain their children from the stranglehold of the screen.
If you have children under 18 who may be at risk as outlined in this brief post, would you take the crucial next step of visiting www.familiesmanagingmedia.com for just 15 minutes? Browse data. Watch videos. Hear testimonials. You'll be forever grateful you did.
Lavern & Ronda Nissley are co-directors of Encompass. Married since 1978, both enjoy coffee, riding their tandem bicycle and working together to build strong relationships.