Mental health and social media: a parent’s guide

Worried parent looking oover as children use social media
© iStock/Fertnig

The guide, by Legacy Health Endowment (LHE), aims to help parents and guardians understand their children’s social media use

The new guide aims to help parents and guardians truly understand their children’s Move to Binsocial media usage, as well as its potential impact on their children’s mental health.

Researchers from the Booth School of Business, University of Chicago found that Social media has been described as more addictive than cigarettes and alcohol, which shows the risk it poses to children who have access to it.

LHE released the guide named, PARENTS – What You Wish You Knew: A Quick Guide to the Basics of Social Media (and the Potential Risks for Children and Teens) onto social media and can be downloaded for free.

Jeffrey Lewis, President and CEO of LHE, says: “We have created What You Wish You Knew to help parents and guardians better understand the warnings surrounding the most popular social media apps. Included in this guide is advice on what steps you can take to protect your children’s mental health.

“Information is continually coming out arguing that there is a correlation between the increased use of social media and poor behavioural health. It has become clear that educating parents and guardians would be helpful and impactful.”

Readers can learn about the potential risks of Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube, and Snapchat, the most downloaded social networking apps to date. For each of these apps, the guide provides a general overview, tips on what to watch out for, and clear instructions that parents can use to enhance the security of their children and teens.

Lewis continues: “It is important to understand that children and teens who use social media are more vulnerable to depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and even a heightened sense of suicide. And, for some, social media has become their social anxiety disorder.”

The guide also includes a glossary of popular terms, as well as information on online safety management tools, media-safety and mental-health organisations, and more popular apps their children and teens may be using.

Dr. Sunita Saini MD FAAP, a California-based, Board Certified Paediatrician, said: “This social media guide will be a great resource for parents in helping understand how various social media outlets operate and the potential impact on their child’s behavioural health,

“As a Fellow of the American Academy of Paediatrics, I recommend that parents and caregivers carefully review this document and develop their own family media plan for their children.

“Too much access to social media and media, in general, can mean that children don’t have enough time during the day to play, study, communicate in person with others, or even sleep. The idea is to balance media use, and for parents to understand the consequences of their inactions.”

The guide has received numerous endorsements from national and local experts including Collin Kartchner, TEDx speaker and founder of Save the Kids, a nationwide movement helping people rise above the negative effects of social media and screen addiction.

Kartchner explained: “Parents need to stop being afraid of the tech their kids use! If your child is on social media apps, you need to be there, too. Educate yourself on the apps they use, and research the pros and cons of each.

“If you have courageous conversations with your kids about what they use the apps for, what they see, and let them know you are there to guide them through making good decisions with their tech use, you can save your kids from years of heartache.”

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