Coronavirus shifted people’s perceptions of normalcy and uprooted anchors of reality. Countless negative effects on minors were cited by parents and guardians regarding Coronavirus lockdown mandates. A 2021 analysis, however, ranked the lockdown-induced increase in tech time as the third most injurious result of the global COVID-19 pandemic and a growing parental concern.

In 2020, adolescents across the country expended an average of 7.7 hours each day using technology, up from an average of 3.8 hours in 2019. Music, reading, and accessing the internet with educational objectives are not included in these reported averages. The totals are gargantuan when this purposeful online productivity is added in.

Mobile devices have become an addiction for most American teenagers. Over half of teen survey respondents claim addiction to their mobile devices, and among parents, 59% agree. Seventy-two percent of adolescent smartphone users feel obligated to acknowledge and respond to notifications as soon as they appear, and seventy-eight percent check their phones hourly at the very least.

In the wake of COVID-19, adolescents’ relationship with social media has been tainted. Sixty-three percent of parents concur that “teens use of social media has increased” since Coronavirus lockdowns went into effect as they sought connection and the sociability revoked by social distancing.

Young users of the internet face numerous emotional and psychological risks. More than half of Gen Z is predicted to develop a mental illness at some point in their lifetime. Moreover, adolescents who access social media for a minimum of three hours a day are at greater risk of acquiring mental health issues. Finally, associations have been found between routine social media use and many negative mental health consequences, such as heightened loneliness, sentiments of exclusion, low self-esteem, and distorted body images – all of which produce tremendous insecurities.

Start casual discussions with your child to prevent them from accessing toxic content and investing too much emotional energy in screens. Reconstruct relationships between adolescents and their technology by addressing the real and perceived roles of technology in our lives and promoting its use as an apparatus for productivity. Be the helping, guiding presence your child can turn to if he or she needs help, as opposed to presenting yourself as an avoided disciplinarian. 

Through discussion and new internet safety mechanisms, you can set fortified boundaries of appropriateness for the internet based on your personal parental preferences. Sexting can be detected instantly by some of these emerging technology tools, alerting parents immediately. Upon perceiving the activation of distracting apps and games in productive or focused environments, like the classroom or while driving, some mechanisms exist to prevent these applications from operating. New software can even prevent children from tampering with apps that they regard as unneeded, revoking their ability to delete or change defined settings.

Many parents and guardians are surprised to learn that 75% of kids from the ages of 11 to 16 want and see the efficacy of parental controls on their devices. A significant portion of parents, however, are skeptical of the capability of these controls, believing that they can be manipulated and cheated. 

Keys to healthier internet use exist for every household with new and developing technology tools. With unwelcome content posing potential damage, alongside a drastic climb in teen screen time, these solutions should be seen as calls to action.