Parents warned over rising screen addiction
| The Adovcate | Feb. 26, 2014, 1 a.m.
A MENTAL health services provider for young people says parents should lock up their kids' electronic devices at night to give them a break from being glued to screens 24 hours a day.
There has been a "marked increase'' in the number of young people presenting for help to get over their addiction to their screens, according to Cate Sinclair, the head of Cornerstone Youth Services which runs the Headspace centre in Devonport.
Ms Sinclair said a lot of young people "can't put their screens down''.
They may end up sleep deprived, face problems at school, can have behaviour issues, low self-esteem and suffer with anxiety and other serious mental health issues.
Ms Sinclair said addiction to social media was a particular issue for girls aged 14 to 17 who found they could not disconnect from sites like Facebook.
For young males it was an addiction to video games that was the primary issue.
Ms Sinclair said screen addictions could also be combined with other problems like cyber bullying and, from a Tasmanian perspective, there had been a definite increase in bullying in general and in cyber bullying.
At the weekend a tragic spotlight was shone on the impact cyber bullying can have on those struggling with mental health issues after the suicide of television personality Charlotte Dawson, a regular on Twitter and social media, who campaigned against cyber bullying.
Ms Sinclair said Headspace tried to give kids and parents some strategies to minimise their use of social media and screens rather than be glued to them all the time.
``We suggest they stop using screens at eight at night to reduce a reliance on communicating online,'' she said.
Ms Sinclair said it started with parents setting stronger boundaries at home.
``Parents can say at 8pm all devices go into a locked draw and don't come out again until 8am.''
Ms Sinclair said kids and parents alike were getting addicted to their smartphones.
She said kids were not telling their parents they were getting bullied on social media because they did not want to lose access.
She said more young people were going online to talk about suicide.
To try to address an issue before it happened Headspace was in the development stage of introducing e-kiosks to places like the West Coast, which were mobile help centres where young people, parents and teachers could go to access help.
``We are looking at implementing increased telehealth access,'' Ms Sinclair said.
``There needs to be a serious investment in suicide prevention and early intervention strategies, as we know Tasmania has the second highest suicide rate in Australia and is sitting closely with the Northern Territory which has the highest.''
Every Thursday is intake day at Devonport Headspace, 64 Stewart Street, 9am-5pm, when anyone aged 12 to 25 can drop in for a chat without appointment or referral. Phone 6424 2144.
Call beyondblue support service on 1300 224 636 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.
Courtesy of The Adovcate