Four Ways Social Media Affects Kids’ Mental Health

by Anna Hughes on 14/03/2018
Social media is everywhere in our lives. We keep in touch with friends on Facebook, vent our frustrations on Twitter, and post our meals to Instagram. But social media has also vastly expanded our emotional space and forced overlaps where before it was tightly contained. That has positive effects and negative effects, and much of that, especially for kids, comes from how it's used.

Parental control apps

It Can Cause, Or Relieve, Stress

Even adults can find certain social media friends exhausting when all they do is gripe. But at the same time, having a place to vent can serve an important purpose; it relieves our stress, to some degree, to make ourselves feel heard and to be reassured.

Kids, however, are still forming coping strategies, and as any parent knows, kids live their lives at a high emotional pitch. You’ll need to talk to your kids about stress and how if something makes them feel bad, that they need to stop using it. Screen time can be a nice break, but taken to excess it can increase stress.

It Can Depress Mood

Undeniably, social media can sometimes be a bummer, especially with your news feeds. But the real problem, for many, is they’ll spend twenty minutes on Facebook and then feel like they tossed away twenty minutes of their valuable time. This is less pressing with kids, in some senses, but they can still get sucked into Facebook and then scramble to finish chores and homework. Set limits on certain websites, or even tablets, to hold off time-wasting, and in the long run, they’ll be glad you did. Parental control apps aren’t made to stop enjoyment of the good things social media offers, but to ensure kids have a more balanced life.

Parental control apps

If you’re worried about your kids’ device usage, you need to let them know.

It May Cause Anxiety And Exacerbate Depression

As we noted, social media is an emotional space. It’s an extension of our minds and how we present our personalities, and to some degree, you’re putting yourself out there, even if it is your best face. Kids can feel this anxiety far more keenly than adults: Who they are, and what their personalities will be, is still forming for them, after all, and that makes them exceptionally vulnerable to anxiety. Remember high school, where you were worried if so-and-so didn’t want you for a friend? Now kids have that in their pockets!

Similarly, while social media doesn’t cause depression, it can exacerbate depressive symptoms, for a number of reasons ranging from the notorious “fear of missing out” (FOMO) to simply believing everyone has a better life. Be sure to talk to kids about their social media use and point out where they might be making themselves more anxious.

It May Impact Sleep

This one is a no-brainer. We’ve all felt that little lift that comes with a new comment, a like, or a retweet. If we’re not careful, we can stay up far too late seeking those. And our kids are no exception to this. Fortunately, the solution to this one is elegant and simple: Limit screen time, take away their phones, or lock them during bedtime, so kids have to wait to see who tweeted back.

There are no simple solutions to the problems of social media. The truth is we’re all still figuring out just where this technology fits in our lives and the proper etiquette of using it. But it’s clear that just like adults struggle with social media, kids need help too, and sometimes they need it taken away. To learn more about parental control apps and your kids’ social media use, check out Screen Time.

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