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  • Writer's pictureLisa F.

Children, technology & mental health

Updated: Nov 7, 2022

What's the problem?

Young girl lying on a grey sofa. She is wearing VR glasses. Her hands are up in the air like she is trying to touch things she is seeing and experiencing in the metaverse
Teenager exploring virtual reality using VR glasses

I was judging the parent who gave their children a phone to watch youtube or play games. But then there was a day I gave it to my daughter. She is four now, but from day 1 she was able to navigate through the Youtube app, swipe away notifications and send emojis on WhatsApp. She is taking my phone to her room to video call her grandparents. She does not need me (only to unlock the phone!) Using an iPhone and apps comes self-explaining to her. She grows up with it, in it. She doesn't need to think and could never imagine a world without technology.

I see children as young as nine years walking to school with mobile phones in their hands. I am telling myself, that my child will not get a phone before she turns 13years old - especially after watching the 'Social Dilemma' on Netflix. And here I sit, already knowing that I am telling myself a lie. The day will come when she asks for it, creates her first social media account, and posts her first video. And it will probably happen sooner than I can imagine.

Do we parents know the impact of the current social media construct?

I am not exclusively blaming social media platforms for raising mental health problems. But after talking to many teenagers, parents and health professionals over the last 12 months, social media and peer pressure were on the top list when talking about mental health.

50% of all mental ill-health starts by age 14, and 75% by age 18. In the Uk, 10% of children aged 5-16 suffer from clinically significant mental illnesses, and 1 in 5 teenagers between 16 and 19 have a diagnosable mental health disorder.

As parents, designers and developers working on new tech solutions, shouldn't it be our responsibility to create safe solutions to improve the lives, health and wellbeing of our children and young generations?


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