Teens and screens: More time could be bad for mental health

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO/KJCT)-- As the days get shorter and the nights get longer, Mind Springs is warning parents that teens could be spending more time on their screens.

They said the more screen time a teen has, can negatively impact their mental health. In a study they reference, kids who had more screen time reported depression and more suicidal thoughts. It’s unclear if spending more time on a screen causes the depression or if people, once depressed, spend more time on their phone.

Frank Lotrich, hospital and medical director at West Springs Hospital said he spends a good eight hours a day on a computer.

"If you're on one of these devices for over four hours (a day), that’s a quarter of your waking life you’re spending on a digital device," said Lotrich.

The amount of time teens and people spend on screens takes away from the social interaction, and face-to-face time people crave and need.

"It impacts their ability to develop those adult social skills, decreased empathy, decreased ability to read social cues,” said Lotrich.

The thing is, devices have become an integral part of society. We use them at work, for entertainment and to connect with people. More than likely, they are not going away.

"Since we can't stop using them what can we do to mitigate their negatives," said Lotrich.

Mind Springs suggests to make-up for the time lost on screens by going for walks, having family dinners without phones and designating “no-phone zones.” They said parents have to show kids a healthy balance of screen time and should feel empowered to control their kids’ screen times.

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