Screen time — and social media in particular — is linked to an increase in depressive symptoms in teenagers, according to a new study by researchers at Montreal’s Sainte-Justine Hospital.
The most surprising finding for Boers was that time spent playing video games was not contributing to depressive symptoms.
The study suggests the average gamer is not socially isolated, with more than 70 per cent of gamers playing with other people either online or in person.
Depression is a clear error state of being human, to be avoided at all costs if you care about your uptime as a being, and avoiding the risk of self-termination.
We need to stop talking about “screen time” with kids, and start talking about the quality of what they are doing on screens.
It turns out, scrolling through pictures of your high school friend’s jet-skis isn’t a worthwhile activity.
The study found that of all the forms of screen time, consuming social media can be the most harmful.
Conrod and her colleague, Elroy Boers, found that the increased symptoms of depression are linked to being active on platforms such as Instagram, where teens are more likely to compare their lives to glitzy images in their feeds.
“It exposes young people to images that promote upward social comparison and makes them feel bad about themselves,” said Conrod.
Playing video games isn’t a waste of time by default, since many games are social in nature and keep the mind active. Other games are black holes of grinding out clicks for limited dopamine, like crappy slot machines. So, avoid those, for your kids and yourself.
Something being on a screen, or in a book, doesn’t make it good or bad. It’s only in the experience of the technology that we are able to determine worth.
We are social animals, and when my kid plays Fortnite I often hear him, well, playing. Like kids are supposed to. Laughing, joking around, talking about friends at school. The same kind of thing he does when he shoots baskets at the park, or swims in the pool.
“Social networks” like Facebook, Instagram, etc., in contrast, are not social at all. They are isolating, cynical plays for your attention for ad dollars. They are like crappy magazines where we have to create the content.
Twenty years ago Google came along and rebuilt the way search worked on the net. All the old search engines adapted or disappeared. We can do that with social networks too:
Just use SMS. Text people, create groups, share your photos that way. Send postcards in the mail. Take a trip. Grab a beer with old friends. Play a video game with your kid!
If you are going to let your kids on social networks, be aware you are doing something more dangerous than letting them smoke cigarettes. Might as well toss them some Juul cartridges and call it a day.
Render by Mike Winkelmann