By: Meghan Mathias
Social media is not inherently evil. Pretty much everyone has some form of it and it can be a really amazing way to share your life and keep in touch with friends. However, many studies have proven that spending excessive amounts of time scrolling through this media is not good for your (or your child’s) mental health.
The idea that social media use can affect your mental health is a very new phenomenon and awareness of it is more prevalent in young adults than in young children, meaning it may be important to monitor signs of mental health changes in your children and whether they may be related to social media or not.
A lot of stress, anxiety, depression, and body image issues are related to frequent social media use. 20% of people who have at least one social media account feel they need to check them at least once every 3 hours to avoid feeling anxious. This is often referred to as FOMO (fear of missing out), however, it goes beyond that. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) classifies this as social media anxiety disorder.
This is not to mention the amount of unrealistic expectations for lifestyles, body image, financial abilities, relationships, etc. that are constantly being permeated into young kids’ brains every time they open social media. Social media is designed to display the best parts of our lives, but constantly seeing other people’s best lives can lead to depression about your own life. Constant exposure to global news (which is often scary, sad, and shocking) does not help either.
Tips for Children Experiencing Social Media Related Mental Health Problems
- Encourage spending more time with offline friends
- Encourage hobbies and activities that don’t require a phone, such as baking, playing outside, reading, etc.
- Put daily time limits on every social media app on your child’s phone, which you can do in the settings of most smartphones
- Practice expressing gratitude with your child and helping them to find and acknowledge things they love about their life
- Practice body positivity with your child (a good practice regardless), such as asking them what their favorite part of their body is and why they love that about themselves
- Do you ever feel jealous or sad while scrolling social media and seeing other people’s posts? Why is that?
- Do you sometimes wish that you could live the lives you see portrayed on social media?
- What is something you are grateful for in your life right now and why?
- What is your favorite part of your physical appearance and why?
Savvy Cyber Kids educates and empowers digital citizens, from parents and grandparents, to teachers and students. Sign up for our free resources to help you navigate today’s digital world with cyber ethics. See more cyber safety and cyber ethics blogs produced exclusively for EarthLink. Looking for a social media parental control? Try a 30-day free trial of Bark. If you sign up after your trial, Bark donates 25% of your monthly fee to Savvy Cyber Kids.
Thank you to the Savvy Cyber Kid’s sponsors!
Interested in becoming a Savvy Cyber Kids sponsor? Email Ben Halpert.