Living in a digital age can have big advantages, but it also comes with some nasty consequences. As we learned in the past few weeks, depression and anxiety are at an all time high. Overuse of entertainment technology and social media can lead to increased incidences of loneliness, low self-esteem, social concern, and decreased communication skills. Demirci, et al. reports that higher smartphone usage positively correlates to depression, anxiety, and sleep disturbances. We also know from Conrad, et al. that children with certain risk factors are more likely to be negatively impacted by substance abuse during adolescence, leading to increased likelihood of addiction in the future. Finally, the SEL meta-analysis tells us that students participating in SEL programs had positive changes in their attitudes and social-emotional skills regarding themselves, school, and others. Putting all this together simply, it seems like the increased use of technology and decreased focus on social-emotional skill learning we see in our society and schools today is having a grand negative impact on our children’s development and mental health.
In the first weeks of class, we talked about genetic influence on personality traits. Conrad, et al. classifies four distinct personality traits that serve as risk factors for potential substance abuse and addiction: impulsivity, sensation seeking, anxiety sensitivity, and hopelessness. These personality traits are likely very genetically influenced, but that doesn’t mean prevention steps can’t be taken to reduce the impact of these traits on decision making and emotional health. Promoting SEL programs in school is a fantastic way to counteract these social-emotional disturbances and help teach and establish healthy emotional and behavioral patterns in kids at a young age. We know that SEL helps improve emotional recognition, stress-management, and decision making skills. Implementing these programs within our current academic education could serve as prevention of not only addiction and substance abuse, but also anxiety and depression. Helping students develop empathy, a strong sense of self, and healthy, rational behavior patterns could serve as a good mechanism to counteract the negative effects of our technologically advancing world.
The past few weeks have caused me to be a bit more mindful about technology and the importance of real-life people skills versus standard academic achievement. Personally, I’ve been spending a significantly less amount of time on social media/screens. I had already realized that social media had a negative impact on my mental health, however after hearing the lecture by Nina Schroder I really felt inspired to make screen time a less important and prioritized part of my life. In doing so, I feel more content and connected with my peers, loved ones, and the world around me. I feel more focused and I don’t feel such a heavy weight of pressure to be or look a certain way. The SEL lecture was really interesting to me because it made me think a lot about the way in which I will raise my kids one day. It seems like common sense, but seeing the data and research proving that we need to be teaching our children how to be good human beings more so than how to be good students really inspired me. I definitely will keep everything I learned with me moving forward because I know it will help me one day when I start my own family.
I chose a picture of someone enjoying the outdoors because I think it represents freedom from technology. When we put our phones down, we’re able to look up and enjoy the incredible world around us.