The Scoop on Social Media: What Parents Need To Know

By Connecticut Children’s Center for Behavioral Health

New research, brought to light by Connecticut Children’s Medical Center’s Center for Behavioral Health, takes a deeper look at the relationship between social media use and anxiety in young adults.

The research, titled “Social media use and anxiety in emerging adults,” featured on TIME.com, found greater social media use in 18-22 year olds to be associated with more anxiety symptoms and the greater likelihood of having a probable anxiety disorder. Other research has found similar patterns in adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 years. So why would this be the case? And what can you do to help?

Before your child heads back to the classroom next week, talk to them about the possible causes below and ask them if they have experienced any of these. If so, it may be the perfect opportunity to suggest a time out from social media or at the very least, limiting their use of it.

  • Compare & Despair: Is your child or teen comparing themselves negatively in relation to seeing the fun activities of others? Are they upset by not getting as many “likes” as others?
  • Fear of Missing out: The photos from the birthday party they weren’t invited to or the group of friends hanging out after class can stir up feelings of loneliness. Seeing what friends are doing online can easily make a child or teen feel excluded.
  • Cyberbullying: Children or teens may use social media to post untrue information, photos or negative comments to hurt a classmate’s feelings.
  • Technology Overload: With so many social media applications available, children and teens may feel the need to constantly be checking or posting interesting updates to their social pages.
  • Avoidance: Is your child or teen using social media as an escape…from homework? Negative emotions? Personal issues? Avoiding these issues through excessive use of social media can make those issues worse.
  • Limited In-Person Interactions: Utilizing social media in place of face to face interactions can make having those face to face interactions all the more difficult. Is your child or teen using social media as a crutch or replacement?
  • Stress Caused by News & the Opinions of Others: Negative news updates or opinions of others can provoke stress or anxiety.

As a parent, you may be wondering how you can help your child from experiencing these scenarios. The truth is, you play an important role in helping your child develop a healthy relationship with social media. Begin setting an example today that can help prevent issues tomorrow using the parental tips below.

  • Learn about the different social media and communication apps that your children and teens are using. You can try out the app and ask your child to show you.
  • Set a good example for your teens. Don’t have your phone out while talking to your children or others.
  • Set a precedent for social media use early. Schedule time for technology breaks, such as during dinner or giving phones up at bedtime.
  • Talk to your children about what is happening on their social media, similar to how you would ask about school or what’s going on with their friends.
  • Look for warning signs that your child is being bullied online or stressed about their social media use, including: becoming upset, sad, or angry during or after using the Internet or cell phone; withdrawing from friends or family; unexplained decline in grades; refusal to go to school or anger toward school or certain classes; or reluctance to participate in activities they previously enjoyed.

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