New guidelines suggest parents limit, monitor kids' social media

Denise Dador Image
Wednesday, November 29, 2023
New guidelines suggest parents limit, monitor kids' social media
The American Psychological Association has released new guidelines for parents to monitor their kids' social media usage.

Studies show teens are online nearly nine hours a day and half report visiting a social media site at least daily.

While social media platforms can help kids stay connected with family and friends, they can also be harmful.

Now, the American Psychological Association has released new guidelines. Experts say it's not about limiting social media use, but trying to understand it.

Many teens turn to social media to relieve stress and reduce anxiety, but experts say often the opposite can happen.

"They actually have their anxiety and their depression increase," said Dr. Michael Rich, founder of the Digital Wellness Lab at Boston Children's Hospital.

The lab's goal is to prepare kids for a digital world.

"The problem is not with social media but how we are using social media."

A 2019 study found adolescents who spent more than three hours a day using social media had a higher risk for mental health problems.

"Too much of anything is not a good thing," said Lauren Sherman, a cognitive neuroscientist.

Now, the American Psychological Association has issued new guidelines for parents. Experts suggest monitoring all social media use for kids ages 10-14. Also, they urge parents to consider enforcing time limits.

"We know that one in three adolescents are staying up past midnight," said U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy.

One study found limiting screen time to about an hour a day helped anxious teens and young adults feel better about their appearance.

"I think it is really important for parents to become comfortable with these tools, to talk to their teens about them. So it's really a question of teaching digital literacy," said Sherman.

Experts say consider disabling your teen's location sharing and restrict private messaging, commenting, live-streaming, and in-app purchases. The APA also said to watch for signs of problematic use, such as poor sleeping habits, deceptive behaviors or an inability to carry out daily routines.

"So, it really matters who your teens are friends with online, it matters who they interact with," said Sherman.

When it comes to multi-tasking, a Stanford study found nearly two-thirds of teens say they don't think watching TV or texting while doing homework makes any difference in their ability to study. But, researchers said there is growing evidence to the contrary.