Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Mental Health Matters: Kids and connections, on and offline

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Clark County students are officially on summer break, and with that, parents may be wondering what role—if any—social media plays in a young person’s free time.

News 3’s Marie Mortera learned more in an interview with Dr. Deborah Fernandez-Turner, Deputy Chief Psychiatric Officer with CVS Health.

Marie: There’s this new CVS Health morning consult survey that found more (respondents) have experienced health concerns, and more are worried about their children’s mental health than physical health.

Did these findings surprise you?

Dr. Fernandez-Turner: We’ve been seeing mental health concerns increase across the country, year over year. For children, it’s been more acute.

Marie: What’s led to this rise?

Dr. Fernandez-Turner: There are a lot of stressors, and those stressors, whether current events, individual life, school, bullying, I think social media amplifies stressors because they never really go away, and they’re always in your hand.

Marie: The study also found that social media plays a great role in our lives, especially for children where they feel social media impacts a child’s perception of the word. About a third say they learned about mental health through social media.

Dr. Fernandez-Turner: Social media can be absolutely wonderful; it helps you learn more about things you would not be able, but on the flip side, it can show you unrealistic images. Adding to that, once people get started, it’s hard to shut it off. I think adults have an easier time putting up their own guardrails. It’s harder for kids.

Marie: What is your advice as we get through the summer months? How to find a balance so that the summer is fun online or not?

Dr. Fernandez-Turner: Getting to a pool, friend’s house is really vital in person, and we know in-person connection improves mental health substantially. Getting out in nature helps mental health substantially, so focusing on those things but then also making sure there are guardrails and when I say that, making sure kids know what they’re looking and they can critically look at the content of their social media, bring it to their parents to think and say, this is something that is hurting or helping and if it’s hurting me, let me take this off and delete it, and having that presence of mind to develop a more positive relationship with social media.

Marie: Lets look ahead to summer of 2025. How do you think our conversation about social media and society, how do you think that’ll sound like?

Dr. Fernandez-Turner: I think that’s a really hard question. What I can hope that all of this attention that we are bringing to the negative and positive aspects to social media will help parents feel empowered to have conversations with their children.

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