Social media use has exploded in the last decade, fundamentally changing our way of life. And when it comes to the impact of social media on our kids’ health, we may be facing the most important challenge yet.
Screen time and social media has become an integral part of our new normal during the pandemic. Kids are using it at younger ages for school and to stay in touch with friends.
Social media is here to stay, along with the influencers, likes, sexting and the fear of missing out it can inspire.
Are there benefits to kids using social media? Does it encourage risky behavior? How does it affect mental health?
What can parents do to set their kids up for safety and success?
In this episode, Dr. G and his guests, Steven Kovar, MD, and Meghan Kennedy, PsyD, discuss those questions and more.
Myths vs. Facts
“Being socially connected is a key to finding happiness.” – Both
It’s not the only thing we need to be happy, but social connectedness is a key to overall happiness.
“Technology use can become an addiction in children resulting in a constant craving that takes priority over negative consequences.” – Fact
Anytime we get positive reinforcement (such as likes and comments), it can lead to an addiction. It’s important for parents to set boundaries and pay attention to what their kids are doing online.
“Parents, teachers and caregivers can teach children social media responsibility so they are safe online.” – Fact
The best way to teach kids is by example.
“Because of the 24/7 availability of screens and social media, children have fewer opportunities to take a mental break from society and for their mind to have rest and quiet.” – Myth
Parents can set boundaries and create those mental break opportunities for them.
“Technology creates social isolation.” – Myth
Technology doesn’t create it, we do. If we can give ourselves moments away from technology, we can flourish. If we let technology rule our lives, we can become isolated.
“Today’s young children have not known life without screen use and seeing adults constantly use screens normalizes the behavior.” – Fact
Adults in today’s social media-saturated society need to be good role models of responsible use.
“Social media use has persistent and cumulative effects on long-term health.” – Fact
We’re seeing kids with lower back and thumb pain from looking down and typing on a screen.
“Young people do not care about privacy.” – Myth
It’s not that they don’t care, young people don’t fully understand how to maintain their privacy on social media or what their posts can mean for them long-term.
“Parental controls are the best way to monitor my kid’s online activities.” – Myth
The minute you tell your child they can’t do something, their brains are thinking, “How can I still do this?” Kids will find a way around the technological boundaries parents set. The best way to learn what’s going on in your child’s life is through regular, meaningful conversation and by paying attention to who their friends are and what they’re interested in.