Teens & Social Media

The recent release of internal research conducted by Facebook and Instagram hasn’t been much of a surprise to most teens or parents of adolescents. There have been numerous conversations regarding the possibility that there is a strong connection to the use of social media and how it may lead to negative body image and the development of eating disorders, especially among teen girls. The promotion of fitness influencer content and the glorification of their lifestyles is extremely prevalent and readily available to teens who search for it. In fact, there has been evidence that eating disorder content has been specifically marketed to adolescents through various algorithms used by Instagram, depending on their search history.

TikTok, like other social media platforms, has recently come under scrutiny regarding the impact it can have on the mental health of its users, especially teenagers. A recent British study found that TikTok was, “closely linked to negative wellbeing and self-esteem, regardless of a young person’s mental state, with more girls experiencing feelings of depression and hopelessness.”

There are plenty of apps that can allow parents to monitor the content their younger teens are viewing, however older adolescents may see this as being overly intrusive when it comes to privacy. A few tips for parents of teens when it comes to the safe and responsible use of social media:
Delay access for pre-teens. No one under 13 is allowed on Facebook, yet according to statistics posted on GuardChild, 38% of Facebook users last year were under the age of 13; 25% were under the age of 10.

Encourage teens to keep track of the time spent on social media. There are plenty of apps that can track the amount of hours spent on different social media platforms. Studies have shown that the average teen spends nine hours a day connected to social media. Social media is simply an entertainment technology that can be thought of as stimulating the brain in a similarly addictive manner as video games.

Encourage face-to-face time with their friends. Help them learn how to plan real, in-person, social gatherings. They may roll their eyes at first, but this will allow for more time developing social skills needed for their future in the real world.

Spend more real non-tech time together and encourage open dialogue within your family. Teens who are strongly attached to their parents and family show more overall happiness and success in life. They still need their parents even as teens, and in some ways more than ever.*

*Source Espyr

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