When it comes to teenagers and the news, you can bet that what they see and hear during the morning, evening, and night broadcasts can have an impact on their mental health.
While the brains of teenagers are around 90% to 95% the size of what they will be when they become adults, their young brains nonetheless won’t develop to function as do the brains of adults until they reach their mid-20s. And when you consider that teens, as their brains develop, are more likely to take high-stakes risks, express stronger emotions, and make decisions impulsively, you can start to appreciate how what they see and hear in this day and age of round-the-clock news could potentially have an adverse impact on their mental state.
Read on for a look at how teen mental health is affected by what they watch and read on the news.
When teens are bombarded by news depicting human genocides and mass shootings that wipe out villages, suicide bombings that claim dozens of lives and injure dozens more, and mass protests that divide communities and incite violence, they can be left feeling afraid. And this fear can leave them feeling vulnerable and unsafe since atrocities, senseless murders, and social unrest tend to be reported in minute detail.
Unless they are under the watchful eye of loving parents or guardians who can step in and help them deal with what they see and hear on the news, teens could suffer serious mental health problems on account of being unable to deal with the steady flow of dismal news. Remember, though, that fear and anxiety are normal human reactions. They will typically only be classified as mental disorders if they are severe and last for a long time.
Hit to Self-Esteem
What teens see and read on the news can also damage their self-esteem. At such a young age, they will be more tempted to compare their lives with those of the celebrities and sports stars that they idolize, and this can leave them feeling that their lives are less exciting and less interesting than those of the rich and famous.
So teens who are already struggling with self-image issues can suffer greater harm if they are constantly confronted by the fact that the rich and famous have access to money and opportunities that most people will never have access to. These feelings can lead to depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues.
It’s been demonstrated that an excessive amount of television viewing can lead to mental illness in children. One particular study found that the increase in violence depicted in the media was making children more violent, which was increasing violence inside of the family circle.
It has also been said that people become what they are exposed to, and since children are often like sponges who absorb everything in the environment around them, it should come as little surprise that they often mimic what they see in the media.
If parents recognize signs of mental illness in their children, they need to seek medical intervention to learn how best to deal with the situation. Even so, there are things that they can do right now to help their teens to avoid stressful situations. This can involve limiting screen time to curb the impact of all of the negativity that the 24-hour news cycle bombards teens with.
Are you concerned about the impact of what your teen is watching has on them? Do share in a comment below.
Author Bio: Cassie Brewer is a health professional. In her free time, she enjoys writing about her passion (healthy living of course!) and everything beauty related. Nothing makes her happier than helping other be the best version of themselves they can be. You can follow her on twitter @Cassiembrewer.