Anxiety is on the rise.

Among college students, anxiety has overtaken depression as the number one cause for counseling center visits, with 59% of students reporting symptoms according to a survey by the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors. That is a 15% increase from 2009. Psychiatrist Stephanie Eken places the blame squarely on technology (specifically social media), saying that “anxious teenagers from all backgrounds are relentlessly comparing themselves with their peers, and the results are almost uniformly distressing.”

So, here are five tips for parents on how to combat technology-fueled anxiety in a technology-filled world.

1. Set a good example:

For better and for worse, children learn from their parents, so be a role model and adopt the behaviors you want them to exhibit. When you’re in a face-to-face conversation with someone, put away all screens and give them your undivided attention.

2. Everything in moderation:

Technology has become an integral part of modern life, so skills like browsing the internet safely and typing proficiency are important to maintain and will degrade in a 100% screen-free environment. Cultivating a healthy technology and non-technology balance is key to reducing chances for anxiety. Maybe an hour or two of screen time, but then transition to reading books, playing outside and with friends, and whatever else to fill your child’s time.

3. Social Media:

This is a difficult one. It’s clear that social media is the main culprit of this decade’s anxiety spike. On the other hand, it is becoming an increasingly essential part of modern socializing. If you can manage to keep your child off all platforms, then more power to you, but for those seeking a middle-ground solution I would direct to you to saying. The site is chock full of helpful advice for responsible social media usage, and they have separate pages for different grade levels so you can find exactly what you’re looking for.

4. Use parental controls:

Computers, TV’s, smartphones, game systems – almost all have options for parents to restrict certain functions or websites. These can be a great way to ease your child into technology without giving them unlimited access to everyone and everything. It’s also key to keeping your child safe.

5. The Power of Creating:

So much of technology revolves around passive ingestion: watching videos, reading articles or social media feeds, listening to podcasts. They can all be equally satisfying in isolation, but they pale in comparison to active creation, to making something new. The best part? Technology can facilitate that process! Photoshop can transform photography, website like Skillshare can teach your child creative writing or how to play the piano. Finding that wonderful intersection of modern technology and human ingenuity is extremely rewarding, and finding a passion or hobby can be a meaningful first step to lowering anxiety.

I hope these tips will help you prevent, reduce and manage technology anxiety. Do you have any other good tips to share? Please leave them in the comments below.

By Seth Gilbert

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