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Social Media & Your Child's Mental Health

In today's digital age, social media has become an integral part of our daily lives. It offers numerous benefits, such as connecting people across the globe, facilitating the exchange of information, and providing entertainment. However, we cannot overlook the potential impact that social media can have on our children's mental health. With Minority Mental Health Month coming up in July, we wanted to share some information about the research surrounding social media and its effects on the well-being of children.

The Positive Influence of Social Media:

  • Social Connection: Social media platforms allow children to connect with friends, family members, and peers, fostering a sense of belonging and reducing feelings of isolation.

  • Educational Opportunities: Many educational resources and platforms are available on social media, offering interactive learning experiences and access to a vast range of information.

  • Creative Expression: Social media platforms provide children with opportunities to express themselves creatively, sharing their talents, ideas, and opinions with a wider audience.

The Negative Impact of Social Media:

  • Cyberbullying: One of the most concerning issues associated with social media is cyberbullying. Research shows that children who experience cyberbullying are at a higher risk of developing mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem.

  • Unrealistic Body Image: Social media often showcases idealized and unrealistic body images, leading to negative body image perceptions among children. This can contribute to the development of eating disorders and a distorted self-image.

  • Fear of Missing Out (FOMO): Social media platforms can trigger a fear of missing out on social events and experiences, causing anxiety and a constant need for validation.

  • Sleep Disturbances: Excessive use of social media, especially before bedtime, can disrupt sleep patterns, leading to fatigue, mood swings, and difficulties concentrating.

Expert Opinions and Research Findings:

According to a study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, higher social media use among adolescents was associated with an increased likelihood of reporting symptoms of depression.

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh found a significant link between time spent on social media and feelings of loneliness and social isolation in young adults. A study published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking highlighted the relationship between cyberbullying and an increased risk of self-harm and suicidal ideation among teenagers.

Guidelines for Parents:

  • Open Communication: Encourage open and honest conversations with your children about social media, its potential benefits, and its risks. Establish a safe space for discussing their concerns or experiences.

  • Set Boundaries: Establish limits on screen time and encourage your child to engage in offline activities such as sports, hobbies, and spending time with family and friends.

  • Monitor Online Activity: Keep an eye on your child's social media presence, including the platforms they use and the content they consume. Familiarize yourself with the privacy settings and safety features available on different platforms.

  • Promote Digital Literacy: Teach your child critical thinking skills to evaluate online content, identify misinformation, and practice responsible digital citizenship.

As pediatric providers, Kids First understands the growing influence of social media on children's lives. While it can offer valuable opportunities for connection, education, and creativity, it also poses risks to their mental health. By staying informed about the latest research and implementing appropriate guidelines, we can help our children navigate the digital world safely and support their overall well-being. During Minority Mental Health Month, and all year long, Kids First is here to help: Raleigh, (919) 250-3478, Clayton, (919) 267-1499

*This article is informational but is not a substitute for medical attention or information from your provider.


Radesky, J. S., et al. (2018). Association Between Screen Time and Children's Performance on a Developmental Screening Test. JAMA Pediatrics, 172(11), 1058-1065


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