There are plenty of positive aspects that people can point out when it comes to social media. Some examples of this might include keeping in contact with distant friends, organizing events, and providing an overall outlet to feel connected with others which have been particularly useful in times of quarantine and isolation like we have all experienced recently. Even though all of these aspects of social media are positive, that doesn’t necessarily mean that everything is rosy. Social media has been attributed to a number of serious mental health issues, especially for younger users.
In fact, a recent study commissioned by England’s Public Health Society showed that three of the four most commonly used social media platforms had a detrimental effect on the mental health of kids and young adults between the ages of 14 and 24. Given how ubiquitous social media usage is among teenagers, this is a particularly troublesome statistic.
There is some good news, however. This same study, as well as similar studies run in the United States and Canada, showed that the negative effects of social media are highly correlated with heavy involvement in it. The U.S. study showed that occasional users of social media are three times less likely to be depressed than heavy users. In today’s world, social media is nearly impossible to eliminate, so the key to positive mental health is to moderate its use and negate the detrimental effects. The question is, how do you do it?
When it comes to children and young adults, communication is key. Teaching self-awareness of one’s emotions is paramount to success with social media. Identifying which experiences cause a negative emotional reaction and which ones cause a positive reaction can eventually lead to curating and selecting the right interactions to make social media a net positive rather than a negative. This shouldn’t be done in a scolding or lecturing tone, rather a discussion about how your teen or child feels. This process will be essential for a successful relationship with social media.
Other possible abilities to mitigate the negative mental health effects of social media include encouraging offline activities. Since regular usage is one of the major contributing factors to social media-induced depression, helping organize outdoor and offline activity can get kids and young adults off of their screens and into other healthy activities, both mentally and physically. Encouraging friends, family, and other individuals that your child trusts to help encourage communication and non-screen activity can also be a great way to facilitate the conversation and to help them develop better habits
When you apply some of these tactics to mitigate the potentially harmful effects of social media, you can maintain a positive experience for everyone in your family who uses it. By limiting access, or restricting access to certain times of the day, you can help create a balanced approach to social media use in your homes and on your devices. Contact us today to learn how.