Sharpen co-Founder and CEO offers a few thoughts and excerpts from the recent American Psychological Association health advisory on adolescent social media use:
1. Some social media is positive. Some can increase connectedness and provide healthy social interactions, particularly for youth showing symptoms of mental illness.
"Social media offers a powerful opportunity for socialization of specific attitudes and behaviors, encouraging adolescents to follow the opinions and prosocial acts of others. The discussion of healthy behaviors online can promote or reinforce positive offline activity and healthy outcomes."
2. Because certain areas of the brain aren't developed until age 25, it is recommended that parents provide ongoing review and discussion relating to social media literacy. This is particularly true regarding delaying gratification (teaching youth to pause, wait), and avoiding "liking" imagery that focuses on body, shape and weight.
"Teens should limit use of social media for social comparison, particularly around beauty- or appearance-related content. ... Social media use should not restrict opportunities to practice in-person social interactions, and should not contribute to psychological avoidance of in-person social interactions."
Consider mindfulness interventions and exploring campaigns such as "fat talk free week" or the Dove campaigns for beauty as positive sources of media literacy.
3. Limit social media at night so it doesn't interfere with sleep. Sleep is one of the greatest protective factors for mental disorders and overall health.
"Data indicate that technology use particularly within 1 hour of bedtime, and social media use in particular, is associated with sleep disruptions. Insufficient sleep is associated with disruptions to neurological development in adolescent brains, teens’ emotional functioning, and risk for suicide."
Enhance young people's social media literacy skills so they can analyze and think critically about the content they are exposed to and participating in.
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Learn more from the American Psychological Association guidance, here.