What to know about the recent social media health advisory
Last month, the American Psychological Association released its Health Advisory on Social Media Use in Adolescents. The advisory is based on ongoing research from psychological scientists examining the effects of social media use on teens’ social, educational, psychological and neurological development.
“Recent studies have shown that teens who spend more time on social media platforms may have an increased risk for mental health problems like anxiety and depression, including problems with sleep,” explains Dr. Jyotsna Kilani, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Advocate Children’s Hospital.
Dr. Kilani recommends parents closely monitor and supervise their teens’ social media usage, which aligns with the APA’s new recommendations.
The advisory’s recommendations for social media use include:
- Social media use in teens should promote healthy socialization through functions that allow for social support, online companionship and emotional intimacy.
- Teens should be repeatedly reminded that their social media actions can be stored, used and shared without their knowledge. Social media functions and permissions should be tailored to be age appropriate.
- Young teens’ online actions should be monitored by parents.
- Online content including anything showing maladaptive behavior (self-harm, eating disorders, etc.) or illegal actions should be minimized, reported and removed.
- Exposure to online discrimination and hate should be minimized.
- Teens should be regularly screened for signs of problematic social media use, including social media use interfering with tasks.
- Social media use should not impact teens’ sleep and physical activity.
- Social media should not be used for social comparison, which can lead to negative body image, disordered eating and depressive symptoms.
- Teens should be trained in social media literacy prior to joining platforms to encourage safe, meaningful social media use.
- The impact of social media on adolescent development should be continually studied, and a substantial investment in research should be made.
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