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Smartphone Technology Causing Mental Health Crisis; Parents Urged to Place Limits

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A mental health crisis is upon American young people in light of such high technology usage, a prominent psychology publication reports. Yet this can be avoided if families make intentional breaks with smart phone technology and social media and deliberately celebrate life together, says a parenting expert.

Surveys show that approximately half of teenagers, the generation known as iGen or Generation Z, are addicted to their cell phones, a July 23 article in Psychology Today explains.

The article’s author, Glenn Geher, conducted a study recently with one of his students in which he surveyed 200 students. An astonishing 59 percent of them reported having at some point been diagnosed with a psychological disorder, he said. Geher is the chair of the psychology department at SUNY-New Paltz and noted that their campus counseling centers are, like many across the nation, “absolutely saturated all the time.”

And he believes technology is partly to blame considering: the kind of communication that takes place on it is often mean-spirited and hurtful, cell phones are indeed addicting, and technology takes kids away from outdoor activities, all of which compound the problem.

“A standard finding in the social psychological literature is that people act in a relatively anti-social manner when their identities are covered up — when they are acting anonymously,” Geher said, adding how easy that is to do on the internet.

Danny Huerta, a licensed clinical social worker and vice president of parenting and youth at Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs, Colorado, told CP that social media and technology trigger the reward circuitry in the brain. And he urged parents to model the kinds of healthy technology use habits that they want their kids to emulate.

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