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Healthy Kids: Screen time and mental health

DENVER, Colo. (KRDO) - Talking about mental health with your kids can be tough. It's been a top concern as the pandemic rages on.

Even before the pandemic, Colorado's teen suicide rate reached its highest level on record. In 2019, 80 young Coloradans tragically lost their lives to suicide. That's according to the Colorado Children's Campaign.

"As we know from the national statistics, is that unfortunately the rates of depression and anxiety have increased and basically doubled over the last two years," says Doctor Douglas Newton, the Chief Medical Officer at Colorado-based Sondermind.

Dr. Newton says calls for help have dramatically gone up in the last two years as the pandemic disrupted daily life. "I think that the biggest concern is that they haven't had a routine," he says. "It is so important especially, when we are younger, to have socialization. It is part of our natural development, and when you don't have it really does impact so many pieces of our life and how we feel."

And for many, the new COVID-19 routine took them out of school and in front of a screen.

"We know that screens in general, have at times really negatively been impacting our youth and this was well before COVID," Dr. Newton says.

But with more technology being used for everyday life, Dr. Newton says some of that is good for kids, as long as it's happening in moderation and the proper spaces.

"A good rule of thumb for me is to try and make social and video and gaming, whatever it is, more social," Dr. Newton says. "Make it in the public domain of the house so a kid going to their room and locking the door is probably not the best route of allowing them to safely get online and have some monitoring."

Dr. Newton says key signs parents should look out for in their kids include:

  • Isolation
  • Lack of interest in extracurricular activities
  • Not wanting to engage with friends and family
  • Not eating or sleeping
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Brynn Carman

Brynn is an anchor on Good Morning Colorado. Learn more about Brynn here.


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