In this digital age almost half of the world is connected to the internet and almost everyone seems to be online. In today’s world, being online and using social media has became an integral part of the lives of many children and young people. Their dependence on digital technology has fueled concerns from parents, teachers, governments and young people. Social media is inflaming feelings of anxiety and depression, disturbing sleep patterns, leading to cyber-bullying and distorting body image in these young minds and bodies. Good mental health is important as it lays the foundation of young people’s emotional and intellectual growth, the development of confidence, independence and a sense of self worth underpinning in their selves.
Youngsters with good health are found to develop psychologically, emotionally, creatively, intellectually and spiritually more sense. They initiate, develop and sustain mutually satisfying personal relationships. They are found to use and enjoy solitude. They tend to become aware of others and empathize with them. They play and learn. They might face problems and setbacks and learn from them too. They enjoy and protect their physical health. They are found to make a successful transition to adulthood in due course.
Studies conclude that a mass availability and use of digital technologies is a relatively recent phenomenon and the digital technologies including social media, cause mental health problems in children and young people. But associations do exist between internet use and mental wellbeing. It appears a little bit of internet use can have a small positive impact on children and young people’s wellbeing, while the two extremes of not being online at all and excessive use can have a small negative impact on mental wellbeing. Do you know that half of all mental illnesses begin by the age of 14 and three-quarters by mid-20s facing anxiety and personality disorders sometimes beginning around age 11. Mental health problems represent the largest burden of disease among young people, and mental ill-health is at least as prevalent among young people as among adults. One quarter of students reported that they were extreme internet users during weekends, spending more than 6 hours a day online, with 16% spending a similar amount of time online on weekdays. In countries like Sweden, the share of boys who could be considered extreme internet users is at least 10 percentage points higher than the share of girls. Children and young people increasingly using the internet on a variety of portable devices has made adult supervision more challenging. Smartphone ownership has become a common feature of teen life with nine out of ten 15-year-olds whereas others are comfortably using laptops.