We keep pouring money into our personal electronics like there’s no tomorrow, always wanting more, always wanting the latest, and schools are no different. In fact, $3.8 billion is spent each year on classroom technology, yet 27% do not meet any learning goals!

Translation: Billions of dollars of your edtech taxes are wasted annually.

At the same time, in the name of funding problems, only three states provide children at least one school counselor – formerly known as guidance counselors – for every 250 students, as recommended. Equally disturbing, only three others have at least one school psychologist for every 750 students, according to federal data.

Put them together and what do you have? Rising rates of anxiety and depression in our youth without much of a safety net in place for them.

Further…

  • In a 2019 Pew Research survey, 70% of teens surveyed agreed that stress, anxiety, and depression are a major problem among their peers.
  • A 2017 American Psychological Association Stress in America survey found that 60% of parents worry about the influence of social media on their children’s physical and mental health.
  • A recent NBC News/Survey Monkey poll found that nearly 33% of 1,300 parents of children ages 5 to 17 blamed social media for their children’s mental and emotional health problems.
  • From 2009 to 2017, the CDC says rates of depression for people ages 14 to 17 increased by more than 60%.
  • According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 32% of adolescents suffer from an anxiety disorder, and 12% of our 12-17 year olds reported a major depressive episode in the past year.
  • Between 2005 and 2017, the proportion of adolescents ages 12 to 17 who reported major depressive symptoms increased from 8.7% to 13.2%, according to data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

Commenting on these facts and arguing that teens turn to their smartphones as their “preferred social outlet,” San Diego State University psychologist Jean Twenge says, “It suggests that something is seriously wrong with young people’s lives and that everything that went wrong seemed to happen around 2012 or 2013.”

And that’s the time when, as Twenge points out, smartphones became commonplace and “social networking went from optional to mandatory among young people… What you get is a fundamental change in the way teens spend their free time. They spend less time sleeping, less time with their friends face-to-face… It’s not something that happened to their parents…”

University of Southern California Vice Chancellor for Campus Wellness and Crisis Intervention Varun San adds: “Deep down there is a sense of disconnection. These are students who are very connected online. These are students who may have 1,000 friends online but are struggling to make friends in real life.”

Also of note:

  1. Of the 1,800 19-21 year olds surveyed, the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine found that the top 25% of social media users are at higher risk of experiencing depression than the bottom 25%.
  2. University College London found that adolescents who used social media for more than 5 hours a day showed a 50% increase in depressive symptoms among girls and a 35% increase among boys compared to users for 1-3 hours.
  3. According to a UK Millennium Cohort study, 43% of girls said they spend 3 hours or more on social media, as do 21.9% of boys, and 26% of those girls and 21% of those boys had higher depressive scores than those who spent less than 3 hours.

And now this is just in: An analysis by the National Institutes of Health, the University at Albany, and New York University Langone Medical Center found that babies as young as 12 months spend nearly an hour in front of a screen every day, and 3-year-olds spend more than 150 minutes.

In other words, pay attention and set limits, following the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines that recommend NO screening for infants/toddlers younger than 18 months, with a gradual build-up between 18-24 months, and no more than one hour per day for the 2-5 age group.

And then tell your kids…

  1. No more than 2 hours a day on any device, other than computer related homework.
  2. No devices at the dinner table or during quiet homework/study time, except for online assignments
  3. No device is used an hour before bed, too stimulating, plus blue light wreaks havoc on sleep.
  4. Nothing to go to bed with the smartphone in hand. If it is used as an alarm clock, buy an alarm clock.

Oh yeah, and follow your own good advice for your own good…