I’ve written frequently over the last few years about teens and their mental health. Unfortunately, this continues to be a hot topic because anxiety and depression in our kids is on the rise. Much of this has to do with the rise in social media use for teens.
In a recent episode of my Parenting Great Kids Podcast, clinical social worker and psychoanalyst Erica Komisar alerted me to some startling statistics:
“One study by the Child Mind Institute showed that eighth-graders who were heavy users of social media had a 27% increased risk of depression. Most alarming are the results of a study by American researchers, which found that adolescents who spend more than three hours a day on a screen are 35% more likely to have a risk factor for suicide. Adolescents who spent more time on off-screen activities, on the other hand, such as spending time with friends and playing sports, were much less likely to be unhappy.”
Reducing social media use is clearly helpful for improving teens’ mental health, but so is something else: teaching them about God.
I’ve done extensive research on the impact faith can have on a child and what I’ve found is encouraging:
- Spiritual practices like meditation or prayer have been linked to increased levels of serotonin, dopamine and endorphins—chemicals that help the brain regulate and feel good. Reading scripture has also been linked to a decrease in cortisol and noradrenaline—chemicals that cause stress and anxiety.1
- One study in Canada found that people who attend religious services regularly have a lower risk of depression.2
- In a study done at a mental health treatment center, 80% of patients reported using religion to cope with daily life, 65% said religion helped them cope with their symptoms, and 30% said religion gave them a purpose.3