Kendra Fisher examines the negative effects that screen time and social media have, especially on children, and why it’s crucial we spend more time communicating offline
mentallyfit is Presented by Kendra Fisher
Podcast length 15′ o5″
Kendra Fisher offers a frank and realistic examination of the subtle ways that exposure to computers and social media is effecting all of us but critically its impact on children. She shares evidence of the effects that computer screens are having on young children and bases her recommendations for changing these habits on actual experiences explaining why limiting time is critical to development. The results of scientific studies show that children below the age of two should be limited to no more than 30 mins a day in front of a screen and why more exposure can lead to mental health issues. This is another critically important conversation with valuable advice and a wake-up call to us all on how we help maintain our mental health and crucially help others.
If you are suffering from mental illness and would like to contact Kendra about any of the topics she covers on the show, please email in confidence to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The full transcript of this episode is below.
In case you missed previous episodes you can listen to them here.
WiSP Sports Radio is the world’s largest network of podcasts for women’s sport with more than 700 episodes, 30 shows and a global audience of 1.5 million and is available on all major podcast players, such as iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify & Google Play.
Kendra’s website – http://mentallyfit.com/new/
RELATED: Kendra Fisher on Transcending Sport
[00:00:03] Hello and welcome to mentallyfit – the podcast that discusses topics relating to mental health and LGBTQ issues.
[00:00:14] I’m Kendra Fisher Canadian ice hockey goalie and if you are a new listener to the show you can hear the first couple episodes at wispsports.com where I was discussing preparing for the holiday season as well as how sports saved my life. You’re also able to find a full transcript of the show on the page under listen and then click on mentally fit. The show gives me the opportunity to share my experiences with you and offer some advice on how to cope because it’s important to know that you’re not alone and to have the tools to call on when you need them. I spent a lot of time now giving talks on the subjects and on this episode personally I would like to discuss the effect of social media and screen time on mental health and I find this one to be a topic that comes up and my my day to day journey quite often actually as I’ve spent a lot of time in schools particularly with children and teenagers as well as a lot of athletes that are younger in their years. And the conversation I’d like to have around is a lot about exposure. I think that we have this understanding now that we live in a world where we’re going to be inundated and exposed to many many different avenues of social media whether it be online with Facebook and Instagram and Snap Chat and to be quite honest I couldn’t even list them all.
[00:01:41] Whether you’re listening to these podcasts or signing on to YouTube to watch videos and what I’ve seen more and more of the things that I facing more and more with regards to exposure to this is that at younger ages kids have so much more information flying at them, way more than I ever had and way more than generations before me had. And there are positives to this that are absolutely positives to being able to get on computer and you know typing in Google and find out as much information and endless sources on pretty much any topic you could ever dream up. Now the other side of this and where I’m finding and seeing evidence that it’s affecting people differently is we don’t necessarily know what to do with that information. I know as somebody who lives with anxiety and panic I’m completely guilty of being my own doctor. I can’t count the number of times the beginning of my illness that I did the whole Web MD search and came up with this astronomical list of symptoms of what horrible ailment I might be dealing with. And of course again being predisposed to worry. It would take me over it would be this. This obsession this. This focus that I just couldn’t let go of. And I would tear it apart and apply it myself in every possible way. Well the issue is now we have so many things that are affecting our youth and are teenagers and even adults where they don’t necessarily know what to do with that information. I’m not a doctor. I know that I could read everything that web M.D. and the Mayo Clinic and the Cleveland Clinic and every hospital, and blog and you know chat message board had on line about any symptom I type in but the chances are I didn’t understand that.
[00:03:41] Well imagine that with your younger, imagine being inundated with all this information that; one you don’t necessarily know what it all means. So all of the sudden you’re left to process all of this information in a way that you’re not capable of doing and that’s scary. That’s overwhelming. That’s stressful that’s chaotic. And we’re seeing increases in anxiety and panic related disorders and in kids and in teenagers and I feel I don’t feel it’s being proven over and over again that exposure to screen time and exposure to social media and all of this information is a detriment and it’s something that we have to learn and prepare to deal with on a much higher level and get a lot deeper and sitting down with. And I’m a huge advocate for if we’re going to allow our children or progressing to allow our teenagers to have free rein on information. Then let’s let’s do it with them let’s sit down with them and let’s make sure that if there are questions that come up they have the opportunity to ask and if you don’t know the answers. Sit down with them. Make it a project. Look it up. Find the information find the answers. Start answering some of those questions because it’s our failure if we’re going to allow people to be exposed to all of this information and never give them the opportunity to actually understand it.
[00:05:08] And I guess I’ll take that a step further and this doesn’t make me very popular especially when I walk into a high school or some of the you know Grade 4 to 8 population which to me before the thought of somebody in a Grade 4 having their own Facebook account or having their own access to a phone, a smartphone. It just it was beyond me. And now I mean I’m having eight year olds come up and have conversations with me about things that they shouldn’t shouldn’t necessarily know about but if they do they shouldn’t have to wait for me to show up to their school once a year to be able to find somebody safe to ask about it. And I’m finding this more and more that these these people are are dealing with these things that they have no outlet for. And I just it it’s mind boggling to me that we would allow that kind of exposure. And on the flipside the whole the whole issue of screen time is it is quite literally a drug especially in the younger years there is now research out there there are factual scientific evidence that proves that screen time in a child younger than two years old – sedentary screen time will 100 percent cause developmental issues and will cause issues pertaining to mental health. And that just continues right through the the recommended screen time for somebody from the ages from two to five is no more than half an hour a day. And I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen people sitting there and using their phones or their iPad as a babysitter as a distraction as a chance to buy yourself an extra 20 minutes of time to do what you need to do. And as a parent I understand it. I understand the desire to go that route. But I think we need to do better. I know we need to do better.
[00:07:06] And here it is for me and I saw a very good depiction of this the other day and it was a picture somebody had taken of a creative depiction albeit and it was a picture of somebody holding a handful of pills and on each of those pills there was a different a different social media outlet listed on it whether it be Facebook Instagram Twitter. And I sat there and thought to myself we would never offer our kids drugs. We would never offer our kids that handful of pills. Yet we’re giving them access to something that has the same effect that gratification that comes from screen time scientifically what happened biologically in your body. It’s no different than giving somebody a dose of Dopamine. It’s no different than giving somebody an injection of a drug that makes them feel good. But the problem is is it becomes addictive and in doing so we then take away from all of the other things that make it possible to stay mentally healthy. We take away from the desire to go outside we take away from the desire to be active. We take away the ability for developing communication skills developing those skills that we we were forced to develop in my childhood because we didn’t have that ability. We were upset. We called up our friends we went out for a coffee. We called up our friends we had a conversation on the phone now it’s almost as intrusive to pick up the phone and randomly call somebody as it would be to show up at their door. We don’t allow that anymore in society instead we’d rather rely on send me a text and if I can make time for this I will.
[00:08:41] And it’s just such a step back in terms of human development. And I think we’ve got to find a balance. We’ve got to learn how to manage one; that exposure to the the most monumental amount of information that we’re throwing at people at a much younger age that is just so hard to process both developmentally and on a very face level. It’s just so much and to giving them a opportunity to develop the skills that they’re going to need in order to live in that world. And we’re taking away that ability by giving them sedentary screen time. I know this is something that I I feel that I preach about and I know again it doesn’t make me popular with kids because I’m that parent to my 18 month old has never seen a screen and my 18 month old will never see a screen until they’re 2 years old. Quite simply because if I can stack every odd in his favor to make sure that I can do everything I can to make sure he can stay healthy both mentally and physically. I my personal experience and my wife’s personal experience we’re not going to take the chance of of I guess setting him back and that’s not to say that I am critical of other people it’s just the information I’ve learned and the information I’ve learned is something that I would love to share quite simply because I feel so passionately in giving our kids and our teenagers such a strong balanced foundation to build from.
[00:10:19] And I think that that allows us to get to a place where we can be mentally healthy and we can be mentally fit and that’s something I’m so passionate about and now coming into the holiday season I just I want to reinforce this message because these kids are going to be coming out of their social life they’re going to be coming out of school and all of a sudden access to play time with friends and socialising with buddies at high school or at university or college. It’s minimised and we’re we’re drawn back into our homes and we don’t necessarily have the tools anymore to go engage and create those social environments for ourselves. And a lot of people fall into. And I used to be one of them I was guilty. Ever hear of using Christmas time as a time to watch movies and just lay on the couch and relax and certainly there’s a benefit to this but more so there’s a benefit to finding that balance and really helping one another whether it’s family, friends, children, parents, adults you know just everybody. Let’s find that balance of stepping away from our screens and stepping away from our computers and stepping away from this world that exists out of reach and just beyond the screen of whatever it is we’re staring at. And let’s really focus on reconnecting because as I’ve said before and as i’ll say again you can’t do this alone. You can’t do life alone. And whether or not you can fool yourself into believing that those relationships you have are right that those connections you have online are real – that’s not real. You know a power outage will be all it takes to show you that. But what is real is being able to look somebody in the eye and let them know they’re going to be OK.
[00:12:11] So I just want to say let’s you know let’s really kind of work together to start one educating each other to helping each other through the chaos that that is what we face now every day and really emphasizing this with the younger generations of forcing them to develop healthy habits now that will help them to cope as they get older. And let’s just really use the holiday season as a time to reconnect and let’s reconnect somewhere other than it might please. I’m pretty positive that I can say wholeheartedly. I’ve never felt as good in those moments of need as when somebody just says you know what you need. And my computer, my phone, they’ve never given me a hug. And quite frankly sometimes that little emoticon with a hug – that just feels patronizing. So I really just want to say everybody you know take care of one another these holidays and make sure that you put in that extra effort to check in on the ones you love and really make sure that we’re working to stay connected.
[00:13:16] That’s all for this episode of mentallyfit. I look forward to being back after the holidays and getting further into this. In the meantime please visit my website mentallyfit.com. There’s an opportunity there to share your stories, post your blogs and have conversations. And again I mean hopefully those conversation if you’re reading them; if you’ve got questions, if you’ve got feelings that arise for them take the time to sit down with somebody in person and really get into that really allow somebody to be there for you.
[00:13:48] As well, you can follow me on Twitter @mentally_fit and on Instagram @mentallyfitmf as well please follow WiSPsports on all of the media channels @WiSPsports. And for more conversations in the world of women’s sports including articles, videos, blogs, podcasts, visit wispsports.com. WiSP Sports Radio is the largest podcast network for women’s sport in the world. And with more than 700 episodes across their unique shows and a global audience of 1.5 million. You can listen on the web or subscribe on any podcast player iTuness, TuneIn, Spotify, Stitcher and Google Play and until next time please spend some time checking this out online but spend even more time just really connecting with those you love these holidays. I’m Kendra Fisher and until next time, thanks again for listening.