The spread of smartphones, tablets and laptops in combination with the emergence of social networks has changed how children and young people interact with the world and others with positive and negative effects.
By providing access to a wealth of knowledge and enabling instant and fast communication, these new technologies have also created new emergencies and made it easier for young people to get in touch with content and situations for which they are not emotionally prepared.
Recently it has been found that overuse of devices and social networks has adverse effects on the mental health of children and adolescents and may be one of the factors behind the increased occurrence of depression in this age group.
"The younger must face unthinkable things in the past, such as exposure and persistence in social networks of what they are doing and talking, for example," says Roberto Sassi, child psychiatrist and professor at McMaster University, Canada.
According to Sassi, youth is an experimental phase, where the young person seems more impulsive and risky. "It's a part of personal development to learn by mistake. The problem is that these mistakes can now be marked indelibly, with greater consequences."
The psychiatrist also points out that it is much easier for children and young people today to contact sites that discuss for example self-help. "In the old days you would have to find someone in your person who had this behavior to know about it."
For Jackeline Giusti, a psychiatrist for childhood and youth at the USP psychiatric institute, the young man contrasts her own life with others' online fantasy life on Facebook and Instagram can increase negative psychological states. "He can think: everyone is happy, everyone comes to parties, except me. If the person is sad, it will make her even sad," she says.
One of the most harmful aspects of the network points to the two psychiatrists, the so-called cyberbullying. According to Sassi, online practices in the victims produce the same negative feeling to go through these situations in reality.
An article recently published in the American Academy of Pediatrics newspaper made an extensive analysis of the scientific literature on the subject. In the cyberbulling case, a meta-analysis of 131 studies showed that young people undergoing this experience are at greater risk of developing mental and physical problems. "The use of the Internet in general and the experience of being a victim of cyberbullying are associated with more suicidal thoughts and self-mutilating behaviors," the article says.
Another study, published in mid-October, examined the effects of spending too much time in front of the screens of electronic appliances on mental health in children and adolescents.
Researchers point out that teenagers aged 14 to 17 who spend more than seven hours a day on smartphones, tablets, computers and televisions are twice as likely to be diagnosed with anxiety or depression like those who spend an hour.
Even after one hour of screening per day, children and adolescents can begin to have less curiosity, less self-control, less emotional stability and less ability to complete tasks, according to the study, published in the Preventive Medicine Reports Journal.
But since this is a new research, there are still many aspects that are not understood about the influence of digital technology on young people's mental health.
As for the second study, Sassi says, for example, that there are some shades that can have different consequences for children and adolescents. "The young person can be an active user of Facebook, interacting and talking with other people, or something more passive, who observes other people's activity, games play a very different activity to watch a movie on Netflix. Together, but may have different effects. "
The psychiatrist also says that a causal link between technology utilization and depression can not yet be established in younger people. "We can not forget that time on the screen is a time that you take away from other activities like sleep and physical activities. Sedentary and low quality sleep make mental and mental health more difficult for young and old.
That's why I have to be careful before digitization technology is behind the increased incidence of youth depression in industrialized countries. "It may be, but we still do not have a definite answer. There is also an improvement in the diagnosis, a decrease in stigma, which makes more people looking for help."
In the United States, the incidence of disease in the age group increased from 12 to 17 from 8.7% in 2005 to 11.3% in 2014, according to the latest national survey data.
In Brazil, there are no statistics about the phenomenon, but Jackeline Giusti says that in recent years there has been a large increase in the number of cases of digital technology-related depression.
"About 10% of teens and children I attend have this relationship," he says.
Parents have a relevant role to play in preventing the internet from being used to harm children, says Giusti. "Parents should occasionally look at their children's mobile phones to find out what they are doing and access, but they must be combined with them. They should also show examples of the consequences of certain behaviors on social networks."
The psychiatrist also says that parents should try to limit how much time their children have fun on the internet and encourage activities such as playing ball and reading books.
But for this to work, parents should lead for example. "It's not good to talk about it and at dinner the father and me stay on the phone while the child is watching the roof. This is a time to be with the kids, to know how their day was," says Giusti.
Parents should also be aware of changes in their children's behavior, which may indicate a depressive image. Giusti, for example, removing friends, losing school performance, irritability and interest in activities that they previously had.
Neglecting these behaviors, given their normal age, poses a risk. A depression at the youngest age in the treated can cause major prejudice in the future.
"The child ends with school in a normal way, degrees fall and she starts to look in a negative way. If she begins to think she can not do anything, she can not do anything at all. This group of children is more likely to let go Get out of school, commit criminal acts, start smoking and use drugs earlier, says Roberto Sassi.
Depressed among youth and youth the theme of the upcoming Cincia Aberta program, produced by Fapesp in collaboration with Folha de S.Paulo. The broadcast will be live on Tuesday (06), starting at 3:00 pm by Folha de S.Paulo's website, by YouTube and by Agncia Fapesps Facebook. With information from Folhapress.