THURSDAY, January 13, 2022 (HealthDay News) – Does your teen stare at his smartphone all day? There are many things parents can do to protect children from the potentially negative effects of social media, experts say.
Although there are positive aspects social media, there is evidence that it may pose a risk to teenagers’ mental health due to problems such as violent behavior, body image concerns and other social pressures.
“The reality is that social media is part of the world we live in and won’t go away,” said Marie Radzik, a clinical psychologist in the Department of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles.
“We can’t just take away our children’s phones or computers. It’s about finding out how we can guide them in using and moving these tools,” Radzik told hospital statement.
Some signs of social networking problems in teens include changes in mood, diet and sleep habits as well as isolation in your room. In such cases, parents might want to start a discussion about using their teen’s social media by using “I” instead of “you” statements, Radzik suggested.
Instead of saying, “You’re too much on Instagram and that’s bad for you,” try, “I noticed this and I’m really worried. Can we talk about it?” If your teen doesn’t want to talk at that point, let him know you’ll be there when he feels ready.
“Picking will force a young person to close,” Radzik said. “Or sometimes parents will dig through a child’s social media accounts and it can feel invasive. The approach has to come from worry and worry, not from something criminal or accusatory.”
Parents should call often and pay attention to their teenagers’ media use, said Sarah Voyer, the department’s chief social worker. psychiatry at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles.
Parents may want to ask their teens how they use social media – whether they share updates with their friends, follow certain celebrities or influential people, or seek some advice or help – and how they feel when they use them, Voyer said.
If you are sure that social networks are affecting your teenagers mental health, suggest they give up or even delete their account.
“There are children who can break the circle, and sometimes a parent is needed to help with that,” Radzik said.
Before a child starts using social networks, parents should set the parameters, Radzik believes.
“It can be problematic when children are given regular access to cell phones at an early age,” she said. “I understand the need to use age-appropriate material from time to time. But as parents, we need to foster curiosity about the world around us and use creative tools instead of constantly relying on social media.”
For more on children and the media, see the American Academy of Pediatrics.
SOURCE: Los Angeles Children’s Hospital, press release, January 10, 2022.