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An Overlooked Influence On Kids’ Using Social Media

Social media, with all its benefits, has definitely complicated the lives of parents/guardians. Jonathan Haidt, a research psychologist, indicates social media has been negative overall for teenage mental health, and has resulted in increased rates of anxiety and depression (source).

Yet, it’s also clear social media is not going away anytime soon. So parents/guardians are caught in a dilemma over how to approach their kids’ social media use.

There is one significant influence on kids’ social media use that is often overlooked by parents/guardians, and that’s our decisions for ourselves. Here’s a question to help you reflect:

“Am I satisfied with the way I use social media?”

Kids watch what we do more than listen to what we say. The way you use your phone, when you take it out, what you do on it, how it makes you feel, all have a far greater influence on your child’s digital media use than the words and rules you develop for them. If you aren’t satisfied with your social media use, put structures in place to make the necessary improvements before establishing structures for your kids.

Not only does this help you personally, your kids will see consistency between your words and actions with this approach.

Then, you can collaborate with your kids on the structures that are necessary. Are there certain time limits or location limits for social media use? Will you monitor their social media use? How will you teach them to use social media wisely?

Setting limits on kids' and teens' technology use is essential to protect their mental health. Excessive use of social media and other technology can contribute to anxiety and other mental health issues. By setting boundaries around screen time, modelling healthy use, and encouraging other activities that promote positive mental health, we can help our children thrive. As a child therapist, I am here to support you and your family. Please reach out to me to learn more about my services and how I can help your child.

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