Thursday, November 12, 2020

How to Improve the Mental Health of Teenagers

I am not sure we needed a study to tell us this, but, in truth, we probably need more than one study. I trust that no one is surprised to learn that less screen time, less time with television, computers and iPhones translates into better mental health. The study recommends that teenagers replace screen time with sports and art. No one is going to argue with that.

The research targeted Canadian seventh graders. It was published on Health Day News, reported by the UPI-- via Maggie’s Farm.

Here is the conclusion:

Walking away from TV, laptops and cellphones and spending more time in sports and other extracurricular activities boosts teens' mental health, Canadian researchers say.

Spending less than two hours a day browsing the internet, playing video games and using social media was linked to increased levels of life satisfaction and optimism and lower levels of anxiety and depression, especially among girls, the study found.

"Although we conducted this study before the COVID-19 pandemic, the findings are especially relevant now when teens may be spending more time in front of screens in their free time if access to extracurricular activities, like sports and arts programs, is restricted due to COVID-19," said lead author Eva Oberle, an assistant professor with the Human Early Learning Partnership at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

"Our findings highlight extracurricular activities as an asset for teens' mental well-being," she said in a university news release. "Finding safe ways for children and teens to continue to participate in these activities during current times may be a way to reduce screen time and promote mental health and well-being."

We can add one more activity that clearly provides multiple psychic benefits. Unfortunately, our age of lockdowns, shutdowns and masking has made it rare. That is, face to face conversation. 

Surely, one of the reasons that young people, and many not-so-young people are suffering through the coronavirus is that they are missing out on the ability to talk directly to their friends, without a digital filter. Obviously, they need not engage in deeply meaningful soul-sharing conversations. Studies have shown that playing board games, in person, actively facilitates productive conversation.

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