Social Media’s Impact on Children’s Mental Health: Practical Guidance for Families

Anxiety, depression, and other signs of emotional difficulty are at an all-time high among young people today. While many factors contribute to that pattern during these challenging times, experts increasingly are seeing the various ways that relentless use of social media plays a role in undermining the health and wellbeing of young people (and adults too).


In this week’s episode of Mom Enough, co-hosts Dr. Marti Erickson and Dr. Erin Erickson bring their own professional expertise and personal experience to their discussion of this important topic. They talk about what parents and kids need to know about the addictive power of social media and the ways social media platforms use sophisticated algorithms to maximize the time both young people and adults spend on social media. Acknowledging the positive ways social media can keep people connected with each other, Marti and Erin also highlight various ways social media often undermines users’ confidence, sense of self, and overall health and wellbeing. Most important, they offer effective ways to engage kids (and all family members) in reflecting on their own social media use and coming up with strategies for managing their use in ways that are healthy and balanced. Don’t miss this timely, informative discussion!



Schedule a time for a family meeting to consider the following four questions about your own experiences with social media. Make sure to listen to each other’s responses, both positive and negative; there are no right or wrong answers to the questions.  1) How do you feel when you use social media? 2) What things does social media squeeze out of your life? 3) How are platforms targeting you so you will keep going back to their site? 4) What strategies could our family (and each of us) use to manage social media in a healthier way?



MORE THAN A BODY: REDEFINING THE MEANING OF BEAUTY. Do you worry about the harms of social media, especially on body image? Do you find that you compare yourself to others as you scroll through Instagram or Facebook? In a culture where beauty is so often the primary focus, it can be a challenge to avoid harmful self-comparisons and to appreciate our bodies (and all they allow us to do). It can also be a struggle to see that we are more than a body. Dr. Lexie Kite joins Mom Enough to discuss “body image resilience,” navigating social media without harmful self-comparisons, and becoming more media savvy as we curate a healthier “body image environment.”


TECHNOLOGY AND YOUNG CHILDREN: GUIDANCE AND INNOVATIONS. Advice and warnings about technology and young children are confusing for many parents. Susan Walker, Associate Professor of Parent & Family Education in the U of M’s Department of Family Social Science, offers guidance on appropriate use of technology and the ways technology can bring parent and child together, capitalizing on the importance of face to face interaction.


TEENS AND TECHNOLOGY: ENCOURAGING RESEARCH. Conversations about teens and technology often revolve around potential risks to health and development or negative effects on interpersonal relationships. But Jodi Dworkin, professor and associate department head in the U of M’s Department of Family Social Science, brings research that contradicts some of those concerns. She assures parents that technology has benefits and cell phones have not replaced teens’ more personal connections with peers and parents. Knowing that some teens do have negative experiences with technology, Jodi also highlights ways to monitor use and to be alert to signs that your teen might have a problem.

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