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Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2023

Talking About Social Media

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Nearly 90% of teens ages 13-17 have used social media, the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry says

Two-thirds of teens have at least one social media account, and 51% visit a social media site at least daily.

On average, teens are online almost nine hours a day, not including homework.

That’s a lot of screen time. And a lot of influence from online personalities and friends. While social media does allow teens to stay connected and form their own communities, it can also expose them to dangerous activities and people, including cyberbullying and privacy risks.

“Teenagers need support and education to develop the skills to manage their social media use,” the AACAP says. “It’s important to talk with your child about their social media use and your family rules, including consequences for too much use or inappropriate use and whether you will be monitoring their online activities.”

You can consider such rules as noscreen times, such as at the dinner table or until homework is done, friending or following your child’s social media accounts with an agreement about whether you will or won’t post or respond to their posts. You should also ensure that privacy settings are turned on to limit access to personal information and tell your teens not to share full names, addresses, telephone numbers, social security numbers, passwords or any other personal information. Their location services should be set to off, and you should keep an eye on what apps they’re using.

A Pew Research Center survey found that teens 13-17 reported that TikTok was the top social media app for that age group and that 16% described their use of the app as “almost constantly.” Another one in every five teens visit or use YouTube almost constantly, and more than half of teens say it would be hard to give up social media.

If you feel like your teen is spending too much time on social media or becomes upset by what they see, talk to your family’s pediatrician or doctor, the academy says, or a trained and qualified mental health professional. They can help you and your child develop safe, appropriate rules for social media use.

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