In 2017, a report by the American Medical Association revealed that the suicide rate of teens between ages 15 to 19 had nearly doubled since 2000. The exact increase was 47 percent. During her recent sit-down with Madame Noire’s “In This Room,” Dawn-Lyen Gardner discussed this tragic statistic, its relation to social media, and how technology has robbed us of human connection.

“I very much believe in the power of community,” Gardner shared. “I believe that it combats isolation. I think that’s what I’m seeing the most in our young folks — the practice of isolation as normal.”

The “Queen Sugar” actress went on to point out that humans have an innate desire to connect with others, but technology has caused us, as a society, to deprive ourselves of this need. According to Gardner, kids are the ones who suffer the most as a result of this denial.

“They really don’t have a lot of guidance in navigating these tools that are very useful in ‘connecting,’ but ultimately cannot hold a candle to what it is to be present with someone in real time,” she said. “I think we’re hardwired for that. I think we’re hardwired for intimacy that is molecular. That’s where our learning of empathy and our practice of empathy come from.”

The actress went on to say that in order to address this issue, parents must teach their kids to value intimacy over technology and this comes through modeling that principle.

“To me, the way to combat it and the way to counter is time. I’m not the first to say it but kids spell love t-i-m-e.  It’s time and it’s being willing to be present,” she said. “That has been my biggest priority, as far as my own family, is spending time with them. It has jumped to the top of my list — making sure that they feel me with them. Making sure that they know the difference between a device and real time.”

Do you currently limit your kids’ screentime? Are there any rules in your house pertaining to technology use? Let us know in the comments below.

Follow Jazmine on Twitter @jazminedenise.

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