There is a growing concern about the impact of social media on children’s mental health. Facebook is one of the most popular social media sites among teenagers around the world. It has been linked to depression and anxiety in young people, as well as bullying and trouble forming peer relationships. The rise in usage of these platforms among children has become a major issue for psychologists who believe that it can cause significant harm to mental health development by negatively affecting social skills, self-worth, and self-esteem.
In this article, we will share the main takeaways from what a Norwegian psychologist told us about the impact social media is having on children, and what parents can do to keep them safe during their screen time. The psychologist’s name is Kyrre Dyregrov, and he is also the CEO of the online therapy service, Onlinepsykologene – Bestill time hos Psykolog på nett.
What impact is social media having on children?
As children and teens spend more and more time on social media, it is important for parents and educators to monitor the content their children are accessing. This is because the impact of social media on children can be both positive and negative.
Positive: Social media builds self-esteem
Social media is becoming a staple in our society. With the ability to connect with people across the world, social media has the power to build self-esteem and create a sense of belonging for individuals. With easy access to these online platforms, people are able to receive positive feedback on their posts, thus increasing their self-confidence.
Negative: Social media can increase depression in teens
While there are indeed some strong benefits of using social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, they are increasingly being seen as a source of anxiety and depression among teens. This has led to more research on what impact social media has on mental health. For example, some studies have shown that the more certain teens communicate online, the more depressed they feel, especially those who are depressed or anxious already. Furthermore, these effects are worse for girls than for boys.
The psychologists’ advice on how to keep your child safe from social media
To help children experience more of the benefits that social media has to offer, while limiting the disadvantages, Kyrre gave some great advice on how to keep one’s child safe from the detrimental effects that social media can have, based on research and his own practice. (The advice targets parents, who are often the first line of defense against their children’s screen time habits.) Here are the main takeaways:
- Set limits on how much time your child spends on social media
- Open up your device’s settings and decide which apps are OK to be installed
- Limit screen time as much as you can for children under 6 years old, and let children between 6-12 years old spend some time on the screen
- Create family rules about what is appropriate content
- Talk to your child about online safety
- Monitor their activity by checking the settings to see where they spend their time on the screen
- Encourage them to meet face to face with friends
Why parents should be the first line of defense against their child’s screen time habits
The impact of screen time on children has been a topic of discussion for years, and there has been a lot of debate about the negative effects of screen time on children’s social and emotional development, mental health, and physical health. The cornerstones of this debate are parents’ responsibility to limit their child’s access to screens and foster positive habits that will help them avoid the pitfalls associated with excessive use.
Parents should be the first line of defense because it is difficult for them to monitor their child’s screen time if they themselves don’t understand how screens affect their child. They should be aware of their child’s daily routine and what they spend time on so that they can be proactive in limiting or eliminating screen time when it’s no longer serving them in a positive way.