Is Technology to Blame for Increased Depression in Our Daughters?
Our daughters are facing increased sadness and thoughts of suicide. According to the CDC's 2021 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, nearly 3 in 5 teen girls (57%) said they felt "persistently sad or hopeless." That rate has been on the rise in recent years and is in fact the highest it’s been in a decade. With this obviously important matter of life and death at hand, surely there are things that parents can do to help our daughters.
Understanding the problem
Thoughts of sadness and despair have many causes. Often these causes stack up in the mind of our children. It is rarely ever just one thing that pushes someone towards despair. Rather, it’s mean comments from peers on top of other factors like low social support or stressful childhood events such as trauma, the death of a loved one, bullying, and abuse.
The role of social media and technology
Technology allows for a level of connectedness that before the advent of the internet was unheard of. Thoughts and feelings can be broadcast to millions across the web in an instant. Technology and the internet allow us to share both the best and worst parts of human nature at the speed of the send or enter button.
The role of social media and technology can be seen across several news stories in recent years such as the story of Adriana Kuch. Her assault was videoed and sent out to her peers, here we see a prime example of the misuse of technology. There is no doubt that the inclusion of technology and social media played a factor in her increased feelings of hopelessness. Social media and the ability to contact anyone at any time and spread images and videos can increase the sense of hopelessness as messages and posts can feel unavoidable and ever present.
What can we do?
Without sounding like I am boasting about our mission here at Cyberwise and Cyber Civics, education can help mitigate these risks. By encouraging individuals to be mindful of their online presence and teach digital literacy in a safe and respectful manner, we can raise our children to be empathetic online citizens. Online activities often don’t feel like “real life” to our children, but they certainly have real world consequences. By encouraging safe online interactions, we can help the next generation become the generation that sees the person behind the computer or phone screen before hitting send.
If your child is struggling with depression or feelings of hopelessness, there are resources out there to help.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255: Provides 24/7 free and confidential support
Author: Connor Cohen.
Connor joined the Cyber Civics team in 2023 with experience in both social work and marketing. In 2020 he earned his LMSW in Texas where he worked as a therapist in a private practice. He made the switch from direct practice to marketing and worked with therapists to help market the profession and practice. Connor now works for Cyber Civics and Cyberwise. After earning his Bachelors in English, Political Science and Counseling from the University of North Texas, he went on to receive his Masters in Social Work from the University of Texas at Arlington. Continuing his studies, he earned a certificate in Digital Marketing from the University of Texas in 2022. He resides in Houston, TX with his fiancee and dog Leia. Connor feels that his role at Cyberwise and Cybercivics is the perfect place to make the much needed changes that help promote the mission of increasing digital literacy and online safety.