Teens On Social Media Too Much? What Experts Want You to Know

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By Robert Preidt
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Jan. 13, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Is your teen staring at their smartphone all day? Experts say there are many things parents can do for their children to prevent them from being exposed to the potential dangers of social media.

While there are positive aspects to social media, there’s evidence it can pose risks to teens’ mental health due to issues such as bullying, body image concerns and other social pressures.

“The reality is that social media is part of the world we live in, and it’s not going away,” said Mari Radzik, a clinical psychologist in the division of adolescent and young adult medicine at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

“We can’t just take away our kids’ phones or computers. It’s about figuring out how we can guide them on using and navigating these tools,” Radzik said in a hospital news release.

Some signs of social media-related problems in teens include changes in mood, eating and sleep habits, as well as isolating in their room. Radzik suggested that parents could use “I” statements instead of “you”, to start a conversation about teens’ social media usage.

Instead of saying, “You’re on Instagram way too much and that’s bad for you,” try, “I noticed this and I’m really worried. Let’s talk about it. Let your teenager know that you will be there for them when they are ready.

“Berating will make a young person shut down,” Radzik said. Sometimes parents will go through the social media accounts of their children and it can feel intrusive. It is important to approach the matter from a place that is caring and concerned, not punitive or accusatory. “

Parents should check in frequently and pay attention to their teens’ media use, said Sarah Voyer, lead social worker in the division of psychiatry at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

Parents may want to ask their teens how they use social media — do they share updates with their friends, follow certain celebrities or influencers, or are they seeking some kind of advice or help — and how they feel when they use it, Voyer said.

If you’re certain that social media is affecting your teen’s mental health, suggest they take a break or even delete their account.

“There are some kids who can break the cycle, and sometimes it takes the parent to help with that,” Radzik said.

Before a child begins to use social media, parents should set parameters, according to Radzik.

“It can be problematic when children are given regular access to cellphones at an early age,” she said. I understand that it is necessary to access the internet at times, particularly when there is age-appropriate content. We as parents need to encourage curiosity and creativity in our children. “

More information

For more on children and media, see the American Academy of Pediatrics.

SOURCE: Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, news release, Jan. 10, 2022

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