Technology and Depression: Strategies and Tips for Parents

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Depression is one of the most common psychiatric difficulties experienced by children. While most children and adults sometimes feel sad and blue, a diagnosed depression tends to be more severe, long lasting, and interferes with normal activity.

Signs of depression difficulties may include frequent or extended periods of sadness, a loss of interest in activities, difficulties with sleeping and eating, or decreased energy levels.

While many children do not have a diagnosed Major Depression Disorder, some still experience mild difficulties with stress, worry, sadness, low self-esteem, and a lack of energy. These more modest difficulties may not require the same level of intervention that a child with a diagnosable depressive or anxiety disorder might, but they may be helped by many of the technological strategies presented below.

Strategies for Managing Technology and Depression in Kids:

Play active games – Exercise has been proven to increase the levels of dopamine, a chemical closely linked to positive emotions, in the brain. Playing active games is a great way to get your child excited about routine exercise. Recommended titles include Wii Sports, Sports Champions, Kinect Sports and Kinect Adventures.

Listen up – Music apps can be a great way to help your child control his or her mood. Apps like Whimmy and Songza offer emotion-based playlists, other apps like Spotify, iHeart Radio and Stitcher allow users to curate a wide selction of music to fit their mood.

Play Together – Whether it’s Mario Kart or Monopoly, social play is a great way to get the family together for a positive night of gaming. For video games, we highly recommend New Super Mario Bros. U, which offers a fun mix of cooperation and competition. If you have smartphones or tablets handy, Words With Friends and Draw Something 2 offer plenty of family fun.

Limit Social Media — Kids are increasingly ingrained in social media services like Twitter and Instagram, but real-world relationships are the most important bonds they should be making with peers. Help your child meet friends face-to-face by offering to host a sleep-over, a pizza party, or a trip to the movies every week or so.

Get Outside – Studies show that over-exposure to technology can lead to isolation and depression, especially in teens, and it doesn’t take a panel of experts to know that fresh air does you good. Help develop an interest in the outdoors by going for a hike, bike ride or camping trip with your kids. It won’t just lift spirits, it will also make for a great bonding experience.

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