The Internet is a lifeline during COVID-19, but there are concerns


April 22, 2020

During this COVID-19 crisis, the Internet and our cell phones have been a lifeline. The technology we currently have has allowed us to connect. The school, though different as continued to be able to teach students long distant. You can take free tours of famous museums, learn how to paint or how to play the guitar. You don’t have to step foot into a bank, order anything you may need online. However, maybe the most important thing is you can talk to and visit with anyone anywhere in the world.

We must have these abilities, and we are very thankful. However, with that luxury, there are areas of concern. From the recent 60 Minutes program, they reported that “Many of us look for connection in social media and the news, but too much of that can be harmful. A preliminary study was done in China after the outbreak found that high social media exposure nearly doubled one’s chances of depression and anxiety.”

They interviewed Dr. Yuval Neria, and he said, “We know already from previous disasters that ongoing anxiety during trauma is a huge risk factor for PTSD and depression in the long term.” Yuval Neria is the director of trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder at the New York State Psychiatric Institute.

His concern is the high exposure to COVID-19 news, and the repeat of anxiety only increases the chance of depression.

CBS also did a study that determined “that 50% of teenagers feel addicted to their phone.” During that discussion, they pointed out that “Nighttime cell phone use increases anxiety and depression while lowering self-esteem and emotional wellbeing.” It was also acknowledged that “teen depression has risen 70% during the last 20 years.”

Lisa Damour is a Psychologist and CBS News contributor. She pointed out that “Nighttime phone use leads to poor sleep habits and leads to increases in delinquency and depression.

Phone time replaces sleep, and the screen light suppresses melatonin.” It continues to stimulate the brain. “On top of that, depressed teens use social media more often.”

She noted that girls get less sleep than boys, which may be the cause of a higher depression rate among girls.

She pointed out that you should “start with good habits at a young age. Enforce digital curfews. Put the family charging station in the parent’s room. Model correct usage as adults and expect resistance from the children.”

I did further study and found that “parents of children between the ages of 8-18 are on their phone nine plus hours daily. 78% believe they are a good role model for their children.”

Average daily hours spent on the Internet is, age 1-12 is six hours a day while between the age 13-18 nine hours a day is the average. According to Safe Search Kids, here are a few more the stats that are interesting. “A whopping 77 % of teens between the ages of 12 and 17 own a cell phone. Furthermore, 56% of tweens (ages 8 through 12) own a cell phone, 75% of teen drivers admitted to texting while driving, 28 % of teens admitted to sending inappropriate pictures via text” which is a significant concern, because of the risk involved with criminals who can abduct and do great harm to ignorant children. There is also, as we all know, internet sites, that no-one should visit, let alone children.

A large group of parents was asked what age would be appropriate for a child to get their first cell phone, and 22% of those parents felt that 10 was the right age.

At another site, they reported that nationally “at least nine out of ten 16-year-olds have their own handset, as do more than 40 percent of grade school children.”

The rewards of having the Internet are many. What would we be doing without it? However, there are risks, and we need to address those risks diligently. As tired as we are of this situation, it doesn’t mean we ignore the concerns.


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