Social media is part of many teens’ daily routines. It is important to understand both the positive and negative uses and effects of social media. Being aware of this can help parents guide their teens to use these platforms in a healthy and safe manner. Consider the following information to teach your teen to regulate their social media usage.
- Positive Effects of Social Media Use on Health
- Negative Effortsof Social Media Use on Health
- Open the Channel of Communication
- Discuss Posting
- Review Privacy Guidelines
- Create a Social Media Use Schedule
Positive Effects of Social Media Use on Health
Consider the following positive aspects of social media use:
- Users can keep in touch with friends and relatives. Interaction with loved ones can provide teens with mental breaks from their daily routine, help them relax and boost their mood.
- Users can choose from a variety of different types of content (such as photos, videos, written posts, etc.) to express themselves and be creative. This can help produce positive emotions and reduce negative ones.
- Community events and volunteer opportunities for teens are often promoted via social media. Studies show that participating in volunteer work can alleviate stress and give one a sense of purpose, both important factors in psychological well-being.
Negative Effects of Social Media Use on Health
- Harassment, bullying and harmful peer pressure can potentially occur online, which can have a negative impact on a teen’s self-esteem and mental well-being.
- Many social media users often post photos of themselves in which they only look their best in order to portray themselves in a positive light. Constant exposure to these types of posts may, over time, cause some teens to feel insecure about their own appearance. In extreme cases, this could result in physical and mental health issues (such as experimenting with risky diets, feelings of depression, etc.)
- Most social media users post content in which they portray their lives as very exciting. This may include posts about one’s social life, vacations, hobbies and more. Constant exposure to this content can affect users’ mental well-being. It may cause someone to feel insecure or stressed if they feel unable to “keep up.”
Open the Channel of Communication
Be aware of what social media platforms your teen uses, how they use it and the types of users they interact with. Sit down with your teen and ease into a mutual discussion about this information first, rather than immediately demanding to see their online profiles and activity. Avoid expressing judgment or anger, as this may cause them to withdraw from the discussion and discourage them from sharing important information with you in the future.
Remind your teen that many social media users only showcase their best selves or may portray themselves unrealistically. Let them know that they cannot believe all the content they see on social media and that this content does not set standards for them to live up to. Encourage them to be creative and honest in their posts, as long as they are appropriate and are not risking their privacy.
Review Privacy Guidelines
To avoid cyberbullying and online harassment, it is important that your teen has appropriate privacy settings on their social media. Discuss how having a public profile and having followers/friends they do not know can potentially lead to hurtful, inappropriate or dangerous communication. Then, review your teen’s privacy settings with them and suggest how they may be adjusted to provide greater protection.
Create a Social Media Use Schedule
Encourage your teen to keep a written log of their social media usage for a week. Then, work together to review their current usage patterns and develop a social media usage schedule for weekdays and weekends.
Since teens should not use social media in school, a few minutes before and after school may be acceptable. In the evening, teens need to focus on school work, extracurricular activities and relaxation, so social media use should be limited during this time. Identify and suggest a few additional times in the remainder of the day for them to check social media, based on their personal schedule. You and your teen may decide that usage can be higher on weekends.
In general, avoid letting teens go online the hour before they go to sleep, as exposure to screen light before sleeping can potentially lead to long-term sleep problems.
- Child Mind Institute: childmind.org/article/how-using-social-media-affects-teenagers/
- National Sleep Foundation – Sleep and Social Media: sleepfoundation.org/sleep-news/sleep-and-social-media