Clinical researchers all agree that depression and other mental health concerns have skyrocketed since 2012, which coincides with a major increase in smartphones. We’ve discussed some great ideas on how to approach and handle smartphones and devices in both Episode 1 – Raising Abnormal Kids and Episode 9 – Much Ado About Devices. But this also isn’t a new problem. It’s the issue of self-regulation.
Here’s some ideas we gave on what parents and adults can do to help foster a healthier approach to these issues:
SPEND TIME WITH THEM. An intentional increase in in-person interactions will create a decrease in screen time. And as we do that, watch for clues of deeper issues if you are noticing anxious or depressive behaviors.
HELP THEM GET PERSPECTIVE. Asking them good questions to show them that they are currently safe is a great practice. We also shared some Scripture that give good perspective on the fact that they aren’t alone. (1 Peter 5:7 and Philippians 4:4-8)
SEEK HELP. We also noted that if symptoms are severe or persistent, you may want to seek professional help. If you think there is an immediate danger you can reach out to the Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or Burrell Mental Health’s Crisis Hotline at 1-800-494-7355. If you are in the Springfield, MO Area there are several Christian based counselors, such as My Counselor and Gateway Counseling Center.
We encourage you mostly to continue investing spiritually and emotionally with the young people in your life. Implement some depression decreasers and Scriptural truth and maybe just plan some fun, stress-free, face-to-face time together this week.
We discussed how researchers and educators (and parents) are beginning to notice this phenomenon of young people becoming paralyzed from completing the necessary tasks of life. Many people are proposing this is fueled by increased cell phone use and decreased in-person interactions, resulting in us thinking everyone else’s life is perfect.
In response, we looked at the root issue of identity and talked about how Jesus and the Apostle Paul both addressed this tension. We looked at Matthew 5 and Romans 3 and determined that the only way to address the gap between our performance and the desired perfection was to come to our Creator to find forgiveness and restoration.
As parents trying to help our young people through this tension and move them towards that healthy, biblical response, we need to:
Use this as a Teachable Moment. If you have a young person who is struggling in this area, begin the dialogue on identity and value, pointing them to the truths we looked at from the Bible.
Be a Good Example. In order to help our young people face their shortcomings and move forward, we as the adults in their lives must show them an example of how we deal with our failures. That starts by being willing to say “I’m sorry.” It also includes us telling them our story and how we found our need for God’s forgiveness.
Make a Culture of “It’s Okay to Not Be Okay”. We need to make a safe place for our young people to address their failures and their feelings, and then help them to pursue the redemption cycle. We must model this often.
Next week we’ll revisit and build on these concepts as we tackle the next pitfall – anxiety. Until then, Be Abnormal
Today’s EPISODE dealt with some of the science behind what is going on inside the brains of young people. We explored some of the key things we need to know and how to respond as parents and adults in their lives during this stage of development.
If you’d like to read some more about the brain studies we referenced, you can check out the one from the University of Pennsylvania here, the one by Dr. Jay Giedd here, and the one from John Hopkins University here. Some of the big take-aways from these studies are:
Their brains are losing mass by about 1% a year following puberty.
This is the “Use It or Lose It” time of development
This process may not be fully complete (aka their brains aren’t fully developed) until they are 22-25!
Some advice for parents and adults as a result of this information is:
Remember they are still developing
Emphasis rest, nutrition and healthy habits during this time period
Be present and involved as they need a lot of guidance and direction.
Also remember they need a lot of grace and patience from you.
We really hope this information is encouraging as you navigate these critical developmental years. Remember they are literally losing their minds so Be Abnormal!