My digital mind

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19/07/2019

For better or worse, young people today are growing up in an ever-evolving tech savvy world. In many cases they are second or even third generation digital users, with parents who’ve already been brought up in a world dominated by social media and mobile technology.

We often hear people saying, ‘they’re never off their phone’. The negative impact of digital use is plastered across our media, including cyber bullying, body image issues and concerns about reduced social skills. Indeed, the growing dependency and fast past developing of the digital world, can be a major source of stress for not only young people, but also their parents, as they try to keep up and monitor what their children are looking at.

Increased pressure is beginning to be placed on media and social outlets to make their tools and formats more responsible, as the UK Government looks to implement new laws to protect social media users. Just recently Instagram introduced two anti-bullying tools, in a bid to create a more positive community feel. This is a fantastic step for our young people.

But what about the positive side of digitisation?

We are so used to being bombarded by negative stories about digitalisation, are we forgetting that there is a positive side too?

Although we often hear that digitisation is making us more anti-social, the reverse is also true. Leaps in technology over the last decades has meant the world is now a much smaller place, with the ability to meet and interact with others thousands of miles away being at our finger tips 24/7.

There is also an emerging evidence base for the role of digital technology as a protective factor in the promotion of mental health and the prevention of mental ill health*. The evidence suggests that the collaborative, creative and social capital aspects of digital technology can be important in young people’s mental wellbeing, and that some of the most excluded and potentially at-risk young people can have some of the most to gain.

So, we thought we would highlight some apps we think are the bee’s knees and are helpful for young people we meet.

Anxiety United
A free to use resource to gain information and advice and share experiences. Available on Android.

MindShift
Provides tools and advice to help identify and prepare for situations which might cause anxiety. Also includes extensive information and guidance on perfectionism, worry, test and performance anxiety, social fears and panic. Available free on Android and iOS.

Wellmind
Produced by the NHS, this app provides advice and tips on improving your mental health and wellbeing. With tools to help monitor moods, get crisis help and relaxation audio tracks. Available free on Android and iOS.

Calm Harm
Supporting young people who are self-harming. The app looks at four strategies: distract, comfort, express and release. Available free on Android and iOS.

What’s up
Discover immediate ways to manage anxiety including, a diary to monitor positive and negative habits, a catastrophe scale to help put problems into perspective and forums to share experiences and talk to others. Available free on Android and iOS.

Further resources can be found here

Apps will never replace professional support for young people with poor mental health, but they can reach some people who are not likely to engage with mental health services which are often over-stretched.

 

* https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/blog/potential-digital-youth-mental-health-services

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