"There is another addiction and it's to social media and those phones in their hands," Carol Reeves said.
Reeves is the executive director of Greenville Family Partnership. She said what if the devices we think keep us in touch, are the exact things making us less social and more depressed? A new study says just that.
"We're not just exposing them to a screen that looks cool, we're exposing them to a lifestyle that says this is what you have in your hand to satisfy you. This is what you need," Reeves said.
Reeves sees countless families a week. Some of them are seeing a change in their children's mental health.
"When we ask them what they would rather lose, a license or the right to drive or have their phone taken away, there's no comparison. They want that phone. Where as not that long ago, they wanted to be mobile, to get where the action is and to connect," Reeves said.
She added the social media "Like" buttons aren't providing the "connections" they were meant to. A study by San Diego State University links social media use to depression and experts say the numbers speak for themselves. It states, "in the last five years, the number of teens who felt useless and joyless, classic symptoms of depression, surged 33%."
"There's no social interaction, and it's leading to depression. There's nothing that comes back to you from those social media outlets, they're all one way," Reeves said.
Reeves said the trend is starting at a younger and younger age.
"When you go somewhere and you want them to be quiet that's the first thing you hand them," Reeves explained. "How many restaurants have you been in where the mom just hands them them the phone?"
The disconnect of reality when it comes to interaction is showing up in suicide rates too. The study suggests teen suicide rates have jumped 31% in just five years.
"The number of 13-18 year-olds who committed suicide jumped 31%," it read.
"They're making it their best friend and it's going to cause mental health problems and they do not know how to communicate," said Reeves.
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