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Sept 15th, 2019 | The 23rd Times

By September 11, 2019 No Comments

Helping Kids Stay out of High-Tech Trouble

by: Joanne Halt, M.A.

As a senior citizen, I am amazed at how technology has replaced human interaction so thoroughly in the past decade. Like many grandparents, I jumped on the texting bandwagon to keep up with my grandchildren. Now it’s the way I mainly communicate with friends. Almost 95% of Americans own cell phones and 77% own smartphones. I know I love the accessibility of the internet on my cellphone. Anything that stimulates us can become addictive however, and whenever a habit crosses over into an obligation, it can qualify as an addiction. I have to confess to being addicted to my smartphone. I feel obliged to keep it by my side and to check it every few minutes; otherwise I’ll miss something important. It’s significant how technology has changed my behavior.

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Being a volunteer educator at NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), I’m familiar with the recent spikes in depression and anxiety rates in teens and the worldwide studies linking that to tech addiction. Addiction to mobile devices can impact kids physically, psychologically, emotionally and academically. Sleep deficit (63% of those age 18-29 slept with their smartphones in one study), anxiety, stress, and depression are associated with addictive internet and mobile phone usage. Four large studies of teens from the U.S. and U.K. show that happiness and mental health are highest at a half-hour to two hours of extracurricular digital media use a day; well-being then steadily decreases, with those who spend the most time online being the worst off. Since suicide is the second leading cause of death for 15-24 year olds, it is essential that parents and guardians become informed about the best practices for parenting in this digital age. There are a variety of challenges that parents face today in protecting minors from harm. Uninformed parents, exuberant youth and high tech combine to create risky situations.

PRESENTATION – September 17

In order to enable adults to become more tech savvy, our Journey to Hope Mental Health Ministry Team is sponsoring the presentation “Helping Kids with High-Tech Troubles” on September 17 at 6:30pm in the Parish Life Center. Dr. Russell Sabella, Professor from the Department of Counseling at FGCU and expert in preventing tech trouble is an author and sought after speaker on teens and tech. He will cover topics such as: cyber-bullying; maintaining a good digital reputation (60% of employers use social media to screen job candidates and what is posted never truly disappears); public posting guidelines; effective responses to inappropriate content; negotiating rules and much more. Come learn about the risks posed by apps, devices, and social networks and ways to reduce those risks using both human and technological strategies. Please register for this talk in the Narthex or by calling the parish office at (239) 561-2245

NAMIWALKS – September 28

This year, our Sunset 5K NAMIWalks is scheduled for Saturday, September 28 at Centennial Park in Ft. Myers. Festivities begin at 5:30pm. (See page 14 for more details) If you would like to support our Journey to Hope Team by walking or donating, please email Joanne at jhalt@namilee.org