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CCSD sees 4 thousand percent increase in teen mental health issues linked to social media

Posted at 11:05 PM, Apr 08, 2024

SIERRA VISTA, Ariz. (KGUN) — Robin Wolfe sat with her husband Dale and son Noah at Thunder Mountain Church in Sierra Vista, watching the documentary Childhood 2.0.

It’s a documentary that features different generations who speak on their childhoods and the impact that social media is having on kids and teens nowadays.

It’s a documentary that hit the Wolfes especially close to home, Robin saying her 20 year old son is addicted to social media.

“He’s not able to maintain employment. He doesn’t really focus on taking care of himself,” Robin said.

That’s why she limits her other son Noah’s time on social media. Noah, who is 13 years old, said he only uses Youtube and spends at most two hours a day on it, his mom arguing he actually limits his time to an hour.

If he goes above that, he said he notices his attitude changes.

“Words I’ll use and stuff will just creep in there…and it’ll kind of change the way I think a little,” he said.

Bob Watkins, the operations commander at the Cochise County Sheriff’s Department said since 2010, they’ve seen a 4,000 percent increase in teen mental health issues linked to social media, such as cyber bullying.

He also said they’re seeing a rise in sextortion, a practice in which predators use social media to find people to send them nude pictures. They will then threaten to leak them if the person doesn’t give them money or give in to their demands.

However, Watkins said they are also seeing a rise in the cartel recruiting kids and teens to smuggle migrants in exchange for money.

“The cartels will actually set up geofences around schools specifically in impoverished communities,” he said.

Geofences are locations on social media in which people can look up videos or pictures by location.

That’s why the Cochise County Sheriff’s Department hosted Town Talk with the Cochise County Health Department. It was an event where they showed the documentary Childhood 2.0 and answered questions from the community about social media and mental health.

The health department offered resources such as a teen phone line.

The Office of the U.S. Surgeon General says kids and teens who use social media for more than 3 hours a day are at double the risk for having mental health issues and symptoms like depression and anxiety.

However, they also say a majority of adolescents, almost 60 percent, feel like they have people who support them through tough times on social media.

Noah Wolfe said while he feels like there are advantages to social media like connecting with his peers, there are also drawbacks and kids and teens should consider doing other activities.

“You can try focusing on other things, other aspects of life, such as drawing, reading, doing puzzles, stuff like that. So just trying to fit those things in there that will get your brain running more smoothly,” he said.

Andrew Christiansen is a reporter for KGUN 9. Before joining the team, Andrew reported in Corpus Christi, Texas for KRIS6 News, Action 10 News and guest reported in Spanish for Telemundo Corpus Christi. Share your story ideas with Andrew by emailing or by connecting on Facebook, or Twitter.