Young children are filled with so much energy and joy for life. They love running around, exploring and adventuring. Summertime is often spent going to the pool, playing outside or running through sprinklers in the front lawn. But for many youth today, social media and technology often take away from time spent outside or improving physical health.
A mental health emergency can happen to any child or teen. Especially after a long school year filled with many stressors such as bullying, bad grades, social pressures and busy extracurricular schedules. Many societal norms have also shifted and instead of spending time playing outside, kids are spending more time on their phones, on social media and playing video games.
Social Media’s Impact on Mental Health
Some research suggests that social media is playing a part in the rise of teen anxiety, body image issues and depression. While social media can be beneficial to building communities and friendships, it may also be causing harm to youth and leave negative impacts during important developmental stages.
Lily Wu with KAKE News in Wichita, KS recently talked with Miss Kansas Hannah Klaassen about how social media has impacted her life, especially over the past year. Alicia Armstrong, KVC Hospitals Associate Director of Clinical Services, also shares tips for parents on talking with their children about technology and social media.
The more time children spend engaging in social media also means they are spending less time doing activities that boost their physical health, which can also impact mental health.
Physical Health Helps Prevent Depression and Anxiety
Physical activity like running, walking or playing sports helps to relieve tension and stress that can cause anxiety and depression. There is also research that has found that when children exercise more, they lower their risk of disease and experience reduced anxiety and increased self-esteem as well as other mental health benefits.
At KVC Hospitals, we provide treatment to youth experiencing depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and other mental health challenges. Part of our mission is to provide these kids and teens with treatment and support in an inclusive, creative environment where they can thrive. When the weather is nice, our staff comes up with many ideas and plans for getting the kids outside for fun and healthy activities. One of the ways we love getting the kids involved is through our KVC Hospitals track team. Each summer, we give the youth receiving treatment at our facilities serving Kansas City, KS and Kansas City, MO facilities the opportunity to compete in a track meet as a part of our Summer Activities Program.
Starting in March, our activities coordinators, recreation therapists, and other passionate coaches join forces to teach the youth the importance of properly warming up and stretching as well as how physical activity can improve day-to-day functions. Once a week they hold track practice which involves running drills, throwing practice and even dance circles. All of this creates positive interactions and helps the youth build up stamina and endurance to compete in our annual track meet.
It’s one of our most fun events every year! It’s always motivating to see the youth come together in healthy competition and have the opportunity to implement the social, behavioral and teambuilding skills they’ve been learning during treatment.
Want to support our track team and Summer Activities Program? You can provide a donation for items like tennis shoes, socks or t-shirts at kvchospitals.org/donate. You can also email one of our track coaches, Sarah Coplen, at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how to get involved. We appreciate your support for our Summer Activities Program!