Anxiety can get better or worse depending on what we do. The internet may make anxiety worse.Social Media, the Internet, Anxiety and your mind.

As a teacher of mindfulness meditation, I’m always interested in research that looks at the effects of modern life on our minds. Some recent research by Larry D. Rosen, PhD, California State University, shows some interesting finding about the effects of social media and high internet use on children’s and teenagers minds. Many of you are parents so I thought it would be useful to share this with you.

In summary here are Dr. Rosen’s finding:

Pros for frequent internet use:

  • Can become faster learners; better at task switching
  • Help shy teens become more outgoing in the real world
  • Can improve empathy; virtual empathy leads to actual empathy

Cons to frequent internet use:

  • High use can increase problems with anxiety and depression
  • Don’t always realize when task switching is not effective
  • Increased tendency towards narrcicism
  • Lower grades from too much use instead of studying

None of these findings mean you should immediately wean your child off of computers. But it does reinforce the already wise policy of being involved in your children’s internet use and monitoring how much time they spend on the internet and what sites they visit. It’s very easy for children and especially teenagers to go to places on the internet that are not age appropriate. Supervision, conversation and shared time between parents and children of all ages will help your children to healthy adulthood.

While this research was done with children and adolescents, it’s not unreasonable to assume that similar effects occur in adults who spend a lot of time on the web.

Here is a link to a report on Dr. Rosen’s research:

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