The use of social media harms the mental health of children. These 8 tips for parents can help

The US surgeon general is calling on tech companies and lawmakers to take “immediate action” to protect the mental health of children and teens on social media.

But after years of insufficient action by social media platforms and policy makers, parents and young people still bear the bulk of the burden of navigating the rapidly changing and often harmful world of secret algorithms, addictive apps and extreme and inappropriate content found on platforms such as Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat.

So what can parents and young people do now? Surgeon General Vivek Murthy has some advice.

“Our children and teenagers do not have the luxury of waiting years until we know the full extent of social media’s impact,” Murthy said in a notice released Tuesday. “Their childhood and development is happening now.”


— Ask for help: If you or someone you know is being negatively affected by social media, reach out to a friend or trusted adult for help. Check out the American Academy of Pediatrics’ advice on social media.

— Set limits: Limit the use of phones, tablets and computers for at least an hour before bedtime and during the night to ensure you get enough sleep. Keep meals and in-person meetings device-free to help socialize and engage in two-way conversations with others. Connect with people in person and make unplugged interactions a daily priority.

— Be careful what you share: personal information about you is valuable. Be selective with what and with whom you post and share online, as it is often public and may be stored permanently. If you’re not sure if you should post something, it’s usually best not to.

— Don’t keep harassment or abuse a secret: Contact at least one person you trust, such as a close friend, family member, counselor or teacher, who can provide the help and support you need. you deserve. Visit for tips on how to report cyberbullying. If you’ve been the victim of online harassment and abuse from a romantic partner, contact a Love is Respect expert for help. If your private images were taken and shared online without your permission, visit Take It Down to help remove them.


— Create a family media plan: Agreed-upon expectations can help establish healthy technological boundaries in the home, including the use of social media. A family media plan can promote open family discussion and rules about media use and include topics such as balancing screen and online time, content limits, and non-disclosure of information. ‘personal informations.

— Create technology-free zones: limit the use of electronic devices to at least an hour before bedtime and during the night. Keep meal times and other in-person gatherings tech-free. Help kids develop social skills and nurture in-person relationships by encouraging unstructured, offline relationships with others.

— Model responsible behavior: Parents can set a good example of what responsible and healthy use of social media looks like by limiting their own use, considering social media habits (including when and how parents share information or content about their child) and modeling positive behavior on your social media accounts.

— Empower Kids: Teach kids about technology and empower them to be responsible online participants at the appropriate age. Discuss with children the benefits and risks of social media and the importance of respecting privacy and protecting personal information in an age-appropriate manner. Talk to kids about who they connect with, their privacy settings, their online experiences, and how they spend their time online.

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