Social media, education and health: The kids aren’t alright

Emoji-e1508757270626

A new book has been published which looks to highlight the risks of heavy ‘screen time’ within the context of young people’s education. This comes after successive studies have shown that social media and mental health problems are worryingly compatible bed fellows.

Many high profile Silicon Valley heads- including the late Steve Jobs and Microsoft mogul Bill Gates- have frequently been cited as being in support of limiting the number of minutes their children are allowed to spend on devices such as smartphones, largely because of the perceived harm it can cause in terms of mental health and social development.

A teenager has a 27% greater chance of developing depression when they frequently use social media, according to some figures. Of course there are questions to ask here- how frequent is frequent?- but overall it doesn’t paint a great picture of social’s effect on young minds. Nor does the fact that kids who use smartphones for three hours a day or more have a greatly increased risk of suicidal tendencies, with Snapchat and Instagram ranked the worst in terms of mental health issues amongst users, according to a study this year.

The book in question- Screen Schooled: Two Veteran Teachers Expose How Technology Overuse is Making Our Kids Dumber”- cites the likes of Jobs and Gates as ‘early red flags’, or warnings that we needed to treat the addictive power of technology seriously some time ago. With smartphone use on the rise, the issue is now more important than ever.

Interestingly, Gates himself has been supportive of the use of technology within some education settings, particularly within the context of so-called personalised education, whereby aspirations guide the direction learning will take, with the aid of technology.

All this paints a rather worrying picture, when from the classroom smartboard to cures for boredom on the train/plane, we are increasingly relying on tech to help with childcare. Meanwhile, as they grow up there will only be more bonds and ties between devices such as smartphones and their lives, and as this Forbes article explains, social media’s links with mental health problems does not start and stop in our junior years.

The point being that while we love social media here at Smoking Gun PR, we are also natural born people people, who love socialising in general, whether that’s entering into a debate or simply having some drinks with friends and colleagues out of office hours. And while we will always advocate social as a tool, and as a means to stay in touch, keep track of what’s hot (and what’s not) and general find out what’s happening out there, this should not be to the detriment of actually getting out there to see it happening for yourself.