World Mental Health Day.
Helping kids cope with stress.
We live in an age where social media is used to stay connected, up to date, in fashion and in the know. It’s a treasure trove of useful information, but it can also be a minefield for young people and teens: parenting books and blogs are filled with articles on how to prevent cyber bullying, trolling and how to protect your child’s privacy and mental well-being online.
That said, online communities can be a rewarding place, a place where you can be yourself, or where sharing your thoughts and interacting in a respectful way with others can be therapeutic.
Social media is a treasure trove of useful information but it can also be an anxiety ridden minefield, and a playground for bullies.
For the last 15 years or so, social media has become a mainstream feature in our children’s lives. But fatigue, anxiety disorders and lack of empathy have been associated with ‘addictive users’ online. It can be an overwhelming world for young our children, and it’s important to talk about what tools we can provide to help protect our children's mental health and well being.
While it might sometimes feel like our kids are on a constant quest to post their lives on social media or see how many ‘likes’ they can get on faceboook, Instagram or Snapchat, research suggests that 83% of girls aged 16-19 prefer to keep their innermost thoughts in a traditional diary. Seventy-five percent of girls said they felt worried about sharing their thoughts online whilst 95% said they keep their private emotions offline altogether.
95% of teenage girls surveyed said they keep their private emotions offline altogether.
I’ve always been a fan of keeping a diary and it’s a theme we’ve woven into the A Girl For All Time stories (remember Matilda kept a diary while at the court of Henry VIII?). Like a lot of other parents, I think it’s extremely important for young minds to be able to express themselves without comment or judgment from peers, friends and certainly strangers. In my opinion it helps children figure out who they are, it encourages self-reflection, and it even aids writing and reading ability. Keeping a journal does all that, and - according to scientists - a lot more.
(Here is the science bit!)
UCLA Psychologists conducted a study that showed those who expressed their feelings verbally or in written form, stimulated a brain pattern that makes sadness, pain and anger less intense.
Psychology Today wrote an article saying that writing things down on paper stimulates a collection of brain cells that makes your brain pay close attention to that information.
A study in 2010 carried out by Indiana University demonstrated that the area associated in the brain with learning in children performs much better when the child was asked to write out the information rather than studying it on the board.
Further studies from the Association of Psychological Science showed that students had a memory boost when physically taking notes rather than typing it on a laptop.
Like most parents, I think it’s extremely important for young minds to be able to express themselves without comment or judgment from peers, friends and certainly strangers.
In a day and age where it feels like social media is overtaking more traditional forms of expression, I can’t help but think that our need to write down our inner most thoughts won’t be quite so easily forgotten or become a thing of the past - it seems to be hardwired in us, somehow. Perhaps some history is meant to be repeated, especially the ‘Dear Diary, ’ kind.
Want to help your child start a diary? Download these free pages today