According to a report in The New York Times, there has been a dramatic increase in mental health issues for teenagers. Analyzing over 4 million pediatric hospitalizations, researchers at Dartmouth found that “between 2009 and 2019, mental health hospitalizations increased by 25.8 percent and cost $1.37 billion.”
While other forms of psychiatric distress decreased, hospitalizations of children for suicide have increased by a stunning 163% in the last 11 years. According to psychologist Dr. Jean Twenge, these issues began to crescendo in 2012, when the percentage of Americans owning smartphones surpassed 50%.
Protecting children online means taking seriously both the messages and the medium. The messages preach ideas and the medium assumes ideas. Together, kids are hearing that they aren’t good enough but also that they have nowhere to look but inside themselves. They are disconnected from legitimate sources of authority and even from each other. Simply put, the kids are not OK… and phones are a big part of the problem.
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