House Calls

SPR 2018

House Calls Magazine is a quarterly publication that focuses on health and wellness. It includes a wide assortment of articles with topics on the latest health and wellness information, nutrition, safety, lifestyles, and more.

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26 { spring 2018 } h o u s e c a l l s TEENS & SCREENS A 2016 report by Common Sense Media found that 50 percent of 620 American teens polled said they "felt addicted" to mobile devices, and that 59 percent of their parents agreed that their children seemed addicted to the devices. As for what that addiction means for teens' health? Adolescent self-esteem climbed higher and higher for some two decades prior to 2012, the same year that smartphone ownership in America reached 50 percent. After that, teen self-esteem, life satisfaction, and happiness got zapped. The correlation, made in the journal Emotion, points to the dangerous ramifications of Internet usage, social media, texting, gaming, and video chats on children. Just as in adults, children that trade physical for digital activity are more likely to be overweight and experience weight-related health issues down the road, and excessive screen time may lead to sleep problems, a shortened attention span, depression, problems keeping up with schoolwork, and reduced communication skills. But for developing young minds, even more problematic than quantity is digital quality—and I don't mean how crisp a photo seems. "When children and teens are exposed to violent games, cyber bullying, and inappropriate content, they become more likely to demonstrate aggressive, impulsive, and risky behaviors," stresses Dr. Souzan Abdel-Samie. Nearly half, 43 percent to be exact, of teenagers with tech access report being cyberbullied during the past year; one in 10 of those will attempt suicide. The online world has indeed blurred the boundaries on how we interact with one another, and the tragic result is that children and teens have a harder time gaining the social skills needed to navigate the real world, turning to emojis to express empathy and using the Internet as their armor. For guidance on how to talk to kids about the Internet, sexting, media guidelines, cyberbullying, and more, log on to the Child Mind Institute at childmind.org or speak with a Roper St. Francis psychologist.

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