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Webb Weekly is a family-oriented newspaper direct mailed to over 58,000 homes each week.

Webb Weekly

280 Kane St. STE #2
South Williamsport, PA
United States

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Kids and Social Media

I have a love-hate relationship with social media. I love being able to connect with my friends and family and keep up with what is going on their lives. But a lot of social media is a toxic cesspool of negativity, lies, and just general bad vibes. As an adult, however, separating the good from

I have a love-hate relationship with social media. I love being able to connect with my friends and family and keep up with what is going on their lives. But a lot of social media is a toxic cesspool of negativity, lies, and just general bad vibes. As an adult, however, separating the good from the bad, the healthy from the toxic, is easier to navigate than it is for kids and teens.

Social media is a big part of young people’s lives. Psychology Today reports that social media use is now the most common activity children and teenagers engage in, with many users accessing social media platforms several times each day.

Social media has its benefits, and being able to keep in touch with friends and family remotely was one of the saving graces in the early stages of COVID, when people were isolating in their homes. But just like The Force, there is a dark side to everything. Recently leaked documents from Meta, the company that oversees social media giants Facebook and Instagram, suggest the company has known for several years that its Instagram app is contributing to body image issues and other mental health problems for teens, particularly females. Social media platforms use algorithms to enhance users’ engagement. Feeds may be driven toward polarizing topics or those that have the most shock value, further leading teens down a negative path.

The current tween and teen generation is faced with constant information being delivered right to their handheld devices. Children may not be developmentally ready for the immediate gratification that social media provides nor the constant onslaught of content. As a result, teens increasingly are becoming more irritable, having trouble sleeping and are spending more time alone as a result of phone usage. The Harvard Graduate School of Education says recent studies have noted a significant uptick in depression and suicidal thoughts over the past several years for teens, especially those who spend multiple hours a day using screens.

So, what can parents do to help kids and teens navigate the wasteland of social media?

Set real limits. The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health suggests that until meaningful government oversight is in place to police social media platforms, parents will have to set their own parameters for use. Putting phones down at mealtimes, turning off alerts close to bedtime, and making certain days “a rest from technology” can help. And if we are being real honest with ourselves, I’m sure we, as adults, could do with enacting a few of these in our own lives too.

Block upsetting content. It’s a parent’s job to be a parent, not a best friend. Giving in to requests to engage with certain social platforms, even when they do not align with one’s beliefs or values, can be harmful. Set limits on which platforms children are allowed to use and how they are allowed to use them.

Regularly monitor kids’ usage. Parents should look through their kids’ phones and accounts on a regular basis to see which sites are being visited and how kids are engaging with others. If social media is affecting a child’s mental health, have him or her take a break or delete the account.

Social media is ever-present in kids’ lives. Parents and other caregivers have to find a way to assist struggling tweens and teens with social media so it does not become a detriment to their overall health.

One Last Thing

I say this often on my page. I’m not usually one to engage in political discourse here — I leave that to Jimmy. But this week, I’ll leave you with this. There is a lot going on in our country right now. A lot of things on the horizon that could have real long-term, detrimental impacts on our society. The primary elections are on Tuesday, and primaries have notoriously low voter turnout rates; I highly recommend that you exercise your right to vote next week. The decisions you make today, are going to be influential down the road, so make sure you are voting in every election and making your voice heard.

God forbid you ever had to walk a mile in her shoes. ‘Cause then you really might know what it’s like to have to choose…