We Need to Talk About Kids and Smartphones

Often teens need some education on what underlies their parent’s concerns. This article reviews the major factors at a high-level: how excessive screen time and media multi-tasking correlates with increased reporting of depressive symptoms…how the teen brain, underdeveloped in impulse control, empathy and judgement, is more susceptible to dopamine, a chemical emitted from the rewards system part of the brain.

Dopamine release can drive compulsive device use and promote feelings of distraction, fatigue, or irritability when kids are separated from their phones. The prefrontal cortex, critical for focus and interpreting human emotion, doesn’t fully developed until the mid-20s, so during the teenage years, it’s important to train the prefrontal cortex to handle distractions. Also, there’s strong research linking isolation to depression and that time spent socializing in-person, improves mood and well-being.

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