Expert Weighs in on How Social Media Use Impacts Children

social media use
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By Courtney Ingalls

For many parents, it seems like children using social media is just another inevitable bridge that will be crossed in their lives, but that doesn’t mean that parents can’t decide when that may be.

How young is too young to allow kids on social media? Could there be too many negative effects? Dr. Nusheen Ameenuddin, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Communications and Media, helps answer common questions.

How much has social media consumption changed with kids? With the pandemic, we saw media and device use increase even more among kids who often used it as a way to stay connected to friends and even older relatives. 

What are some of the dangers that parents should be aware of? There are dangers in the amount of information that is collected. There are also dangers in children sharing too much information, which can make it easy for unscrupulous individuals or companies to find them. There’s also the very real danger of FOMO, or a fear of missing out, which can lead kids to feel like they always have to be connected and can come at the detriment of their sleep, physical and mental health as well as academic performance.

How could the use of social media have a negative effect on kids? When kids are online all the time, it can take away from face-to-face [interactions] that are important among family, friends, physical activity and other activities that can help develop a child’s interests and help them grow into creative, productive young adults.

Do you have any tips on how parents can navigate the social media world with their kids when the time is right? When children are younger, I recommend that parents have full access to their account to help them monitor interactions. As children get older and are able to handle more responsibility, parents can gradually start to step back to allow more independence while still setting up some guidelines that children are expected to adhere to, such as screen-free times.

How can parents get kids to cut down on their social media use? Parents can set a good example. If they’re asking children to reduce their media and device use, parents need to show that they are willing to do the same. Set aside some time designated for social media connection but plan additional activities that will engage your child once that time is over.

Do you have any other tips you would like to give? It’s not realistic to completely cut children off technology, but it does make a difference when people set some basic ground rules, even if they can’t enforce them 100%.

-This story first appeared on NewYorkFamily.com.

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