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Spreading the Love

“What the world needs now is love, sweet love…” Originally released in 1965, its message couldn’t be any simpler or more timely a half century later. Especially for our teens who are suffering an epidemic of extreme sadness and violence. Just this month, the CDC released the latest data concerning youth mental health in the 2021 Youth Risk Behavior Survey. With the highest rate of teen girls feeling “persistently sad or hopeless” in a decade and an almost 60% increase in suicide consideration, we need an intervention.1

Two recent studies provide a way out - severely limit screen time and increase extracurricular participation. In 2020, Canadian researchers released the results of a study examining how teens engaged in both extracurricular activities and screens. For teens who participated in extracurriculars, less than half reported spending more than two hours each day on screens. More of their time was occupied with in-person activities. Additionally, teens engaged in extracurriculars and limited screen time reported higher levels of satisfaction with their life and greater optimism.2

The second study released in 2022 out of Australia found “children's well-being is heightened when they participate in extracurricular activities, yet lowered when they spent time on social media or playing video games.” By engaging in an extracurricular activity or even an in-person study group, students had greater happiness, optimism, and emotional regulation. The study also revealed differences in benefits based on socio-economic backgrounds; disadvantaged students involved in athletics were 14% more likely to be happy and 10% more likely to regulate their emotions.3

Our students have been telling us they’re in trouble for at least a decade now. The data supports severe limitations on screens. It’s time to take the screens away and spread the love with more and greater access to extracurricular activities. “No, not just for some, but for everyone..”

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