As KidsMatter is celebrating our 20th Anniversary, it has given me the opportunity to learn more about how it began and our work of empowering youth and families. Our collective impact work with the City of Naperville, Naperville Police Department, District’s 203 & 204, Naperville Park District, Edward-Elmhurst Hospital – Linden Oaks, the Collaborative Youth Team, faith-based organizations, businesses, organizations, area leaders, and individual donors is making a difference in our community, now more important than ever.
KidsMatter works to help young people build developmental assets including positive values, healthy relationships, and self-esteem. Together we work to build resilient kids who say “No” to destructive choices and “Yes” to endless possibilities.
In December 2021, the U.S. Surgeon General came out with an Advisory – “Protecting Youth Mental Health.” The Advisory highlights ways we collectively can make a difference. One of the areas reviewed was social media.
Over the last 20 years there has been an increase in the use of social media and digital public spaces by teens. Effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have resulted in a more dramatic increase.
The Advisory stated, “During the pandemic, the time teenagers spent in front of screens for activities not related to school more than doubled, from 3.8 to 7.7 hours per day. In 2020, 81% of 14- to 22- year-olds said they use social media either ‘daily’ or almost ‘constantly’.”
While there are benefits for young people being online and using social media, there can also be mental health challenges. The impact is different from child to child, depending on how it is used.
The Naperville Police Department in partnership with KidsMatter will host a free Community and Parent Forum from 7PM to 8:30PM on Thurs., Feb. 24. “Protecting Our Children: Understanding and Monitoring Youth Mental Health” will be held at the Naperville Municipal Building, 400 S. Eagle Street.
A panel of professionals (Detective Theresa Stock, Naperville Police Department; Ryan Lauterwasser, Linden Oaks Adolescent Inpatient Unit & Eating Disorder Services; and Matthew Caston, Fox Valley Institute Licensede Clinical Professional Counselor) will discuss the types of stressors local teens are facing today, the warning signs that a child is struggling with depression or suicidal ideations, and practical ways parents can monitor for these signs, including on their child’s devices/online activity.
The panel will share real stories, resources, and information to help families protect and monitor our youth’s mental health. Immediately following the discussion, a Mental Health Resource Fair with area organizations will be available for attendees as an additional resource on topics surrounding internet safety and teen mental health.