The Mental Health of a Child in a Digital World

Jan 12, 2023

Did you know? The Blue Whale game has allegedly claimed over 130 deaths so far in India.

In a recent study, the prevalence of gaming addiction was found to be 40.3% in the adolescents from nuclear families, hailing from middle socio-economic background of urban localities in India. Globally 41.4% of respondents spend more than 20hrs/week playing games on smartphones. They are glued to the new games and apps and forget the world beyond it. There have been extreme cases where children have harmed themselves due to the addiction to such games. Many cases of children committing suicide because of the inability to complete the in-game task have been discovered.

Isn’t this spine-chilling?

As parents, are you taking the necessary steps to intervene?

Do you know where to go in case of an extreme situations?

The children cannot be detached 100% from technology today. It is where the world is headed. But we can surely try to protect children from the extremes.

First let’s have a look at the jaw-dropping social media facts about Indian kids. 

Studies Related to Social Media

Social media is no longer a recreation, it has become an enslavement for the children. According to the survey conducted among children from metro cities (Mumbai, Hyderabad, Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Ahmedabad and Pune), social media use is at 90% among children, which is higher than the national average of 81%.Among these children, more than 53% were under 12 years old, and 40 % were between 10-13 years old. 

Cyberbullying has become very common with the increased use of social media. Following the surrounding trends, trolls seem to be a statement rather than bullying to the children. Around 24% of the children using social media stated that they have been bullied online; another 57% confessed to bullying others on social media.

Furthermore, India has more bullies than Singapore (29%) and the United States (35%).

All this affects the mental health of a child. Undue exposure at a very early age does no good for the mental development of a child. Usage of social media and screen time among kids have specifically been linked with an increased prevalence of mental health concerns. The use of technology is expanding with the ever-changing world. It affects children in every area of their lives giving them adverse exposure at a very young age. There are severe negative effects of technology on the mental health of a child.

Let’s have a look at these.

Technology: A Disguised Enemy For A Child’s Mental Health

  1. Isolation

Social media is designed to connect people and bring them together. However, it has opposite effects as well in some cases. Children are often more isolated and prefer to remain glued to their smartphones/tabs rather than spending time with their friends and families. Social media has drastically reduced in-person interaction for children. This often causes the feeling of loneliness in such kids leading to severe mental health problems. 

  1. Depression and Anxiety

Negative interaction online has increased anxiety and depression in children. Cyberbullying, social comparison, and negative comments on photos or videos has increased the risk of depression. The addiction to violent games like PUBG and exposure to sensitive content can be the triggers to ADHD and severe anger issues in children. 

  1. Sleeping Problem

Excessive usage of social media and playing online games has adversely affected the sleeping routine of children. Addiction to digital content creates FOMO and keeps the mind super active and intrigued. Checking their phones regularly is found to be the first thing children do right after they get up. Children who do not receive appreciation and approval in the real world are more likely to seek attention from social media. When their post receives more comments and likes, they feel more socially validated. The pressure of social acceptance has become the root cause of insomnia in some children.

  1. Physical Health Effects

Screen time on tablets, smartphones, and laptops can hold a person's eye for longer periods leading to eye strain and dry eyes. Additionally, the digital content makes children lethargic and inactive. Reduced physical activity along with sedentary behaviors causes issues like obesity and other chronic diseases. 

Addiction to technology and digital content has many dysfunctional effects on children which should be addressed by parents or experts in severe situations. Such mental and physical effects are only the beginning of much severe issues. 

Signs For Parents

How would a parent know if their kid needs an intervention on the usage of technology? Let’s have a look at some signs in children which can be alarming for parents to intervene. 

  1. Extreme and sudden changes in mood
  2. Prefer to stay aloof
  3. Secretive about whereabouts
  4. Sudden change in appetite and body weight
  5. Difficulty in focusing
  6. Regular complaints from schools
  7. Extreme anger
  8. Unexplained bruises

Such signs cannot be overlooked. They need immediate attention by parents and in some cases by an expert. 

What Can Parents Do?

Parents are a child’s first teacher. They can inculcate some healthy habits in children from the very beginning to restrict the extreme effects of technology in their child.

  • Restrict screen time
  • Spend time with your children
  • Inculcate reading habits
  • Keep a check on their company
  • Talk to an expert

Why Maatri?

Maatri is India’s top preventive healthcare company which strives to provide adequate exposure to parents to take better care of their children. Maatri has the top pediatricians, psychologists, behavioral pediatricians, ADHD experts and other child specialists on their panel. Parents can schedule an online appointment with them from the comfort of their homes. Maatri also provides free sessions with the behavioral pediatrician and regular screening reports to track the child’s overall well-being by yourself.

There is no price greater when a child’s wellbeing is concerned. Maatri has been helping parents across the country to improve the health of their children. It is time for you to be a part of the Maatri family for your child’s better future.