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Is Your Computer Making your Child Depressed?

By: Charlotte Fereday - Updated: 28 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
Depressed Child Computer Addictions

Childhood depression can turn a happy normal child into a disobedient truanting loner. There are many things that can trigger depression in children but can your computer be adding to the problem?

How Do You Know If Your Child Is Depressed?

Young children find it particularly hard to express how they’re feeling if they’re depressed. They might not know why they are feeling sad so become confused and isolated.

Symptoms include insomnia, forgetfulness, hopelessness, anxiety and feelings of guilt. Depressed children usually struggle with school and so stop attending; they withdraw from friends and family and tend to occupy their time with solitary activities.

A Cause Or A Crutch?

As with all addictions, Computer Addiction can be very debilitating and can lead to depression. If your child is addicted to the computer or to computer games there are specialist services that can help.

Moderate computer use (recommended ‘screen time’ for school aged children is around two hours a day, although this includes TV viewing) is unlikely to cause addiction or depression. The perceived link between childhood depression and computers is largely drawn from the fact that a depressed child will often choose to spend more time on the computer as it doesn’t require any emotional or social interaction.

If you think your child might be using the computer to avoid conversation or involvement with friends or family try to encourage them into joining in less solitary activities. There’s no quick fix for childhood depression but encouraging them into joining in with small group activities, even for a short while each day, can help.

The Right Content

There is some evidence that points to inappropriate content on the computer, and in computer games having a negative impact on children’s emotional development. They might think it’s cool to play adult games or visit inappropriate websites but when they are exposed to violent or sexual content they don’t have the ability to deal with what they’re seeing. This can cause long term emotional difficulties and could lead to depression.

If your child has access to the computer you need to know that the content they’re exposed to is acceptable. Keep the computer in a public space in the house so you can be more aware of what they’re doing.

Cyber Bullying

Unfortunately one area where your child’s happiness might be at risk on the computer is from Cyber Bullying. This takes exactly the same form as real-life bullying, can be equally devastating, and is just as hard to prove.

While child friendly websites and chat rooms can monitor language they don’t usually have the capability to monitor every conversation. As Cyber bullying rarely involves explicit threats it can be harder to pick up.

There has been a recent spate of ‘knocking’ websites where users (unfortunately often school kids) post mean or embarrassing photos and messages about people they want to hurt.

At its most extreme Cyber Bullying has resulted in suicide.

Check For Eye Strain

Prolonged computer use can cause eye strain which can lead to head aches and irritability. If your child is exhibiting these symptoms make sure they take regular breaks and that the computer is properly set up with appropriate lighting.

Extreme eyestrain results in many of the same symptoms as depression, but it’s a far easier problem to treat.

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