Teens and social media: New guidelines for parents

Updated: Sep. 20, 2023 at 5:27 PM CDT
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Orlando, Fla. (WGEM) --- There’s no denying that social media plays a large role in the lives of today’s teenagers. Studies show teens are online nearly nine hours a day and half report visiting a social media site at least daily. While social media platforms can help kids stay connected with family and friends, they can also be harmful. Now, the American Psychological Association has released new guidelines to help parents navigate teens’ social media use.

A 2019 study found adolescents who spent more than three hours a day using social media had a higher risk for mental health problems.

Lauren Sherman, PhD, Cognitive Neuroscientist says, “Too much of anything is not a good thing.”

Now, the American Psychological Association has issued new guidelines for parents. Experts suggest monitoring all social media use for kids ages 10-14. Also, they urge parents to consider enforcing time limits. One study found limiting screen time to about an hour a day helped anxious teens and young adults feel better about their appearance.

Sherman, PhD says “I think it is really important for parents to become comfortable with these tools, to talk to teens about them. So, it’s really a question of teaching digital literacy.”

You also might want to disable your teen’s location sharing and restrict private messaging, commenting, live-streaming, and in-app purchases. The APA also says watch for signs of problematic use, such as poor sleeping habits, deceptive behaviors, or an inability to carry out daily routines.

Sherman, PhD, explains, “So, it really matters who your teens are friends with online, it matters who they interact with.”

If you suspect your child’s mental health is suffering, you may want to seek professional help. With ways to help teens with social media.

Experts say it’s also a good idea to talk to your teen about how to think critically when using social media. For example, you can encourage them to fact-check the information they come across and discuss any questions they have with you.

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