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Digital media depression — helping kids cope

ALPENA, Mich. – Health experts say social media is contributing to depression in children. These mediums are a big part of many teens’ lives.

A 2018 Pew Research survey of teens 13 to 17 years old found startling results.

45 percent of teens are online almost constantly and 97 percent use a social media platform, such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat.

But what impact does social media use have on teens?

“Children have not developed their brains fully, so they aren’t always able to see the future the way an adult might,” said Lauren Tallant, Supervisor of Children’s Services at NE Michigan Community Mental Health. “They aren’t able to see if I do this today, this could affect me years down the road.”

Tallant said social media is designed to keep viewers hooked which creates addictive behaviors and withdrawals.

“There dopamine centers will fire when they get “Likes” they will fire and light up and say oh, this is so great when they get noticed,” said Tallant. “And if they don’t get noticed, then the opposite happens and they can become very depressed and anxious.”

Tallant said one way to keep children and teens away from the pressures of social media is to create limits and boundaries.

NE Michigan Community Mental Health Authority (NEMCMH) has various services for children and adults and families. You can reach NEMCMH’s office and crisis line at 989-356-2161. For more information on tips to help monitor and limit social media use click here.