I’ve been active on social media for a very long time, but tend to follow other medical professionals and thought leaders. I do find that when I go to my personal accounts there is more drama. I prefer my professional accounts.
Problems with social media
We’ve all heard of the many concerns with social media and kids/teens.
- Sleep loss
- Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) – I’ve written about this in my ADHDKCTeen blog in JOMO if you don’t know what it is
- Loss of personal interaction
- Increased anxiety
- Lack of exercise
- Time management problems
There are of course many other concerns, but I’ve heard few solutions other than setting screen time limits. Kids thwart those limits all the time and even hide accounts from parents.
Not to mention the problem that kids can fall prey to most of the above problems even if they do follow Screen Time Limits.
A way to help?
I was very excited to see the article How to Reduce the Toxicity of Teen Girls’ Social Media Use A simple intervention that changes the way girls view their feeds show up in my Twitter feed.
It reports a positive benefits to asking girls to follow at least four high-achieving women whose interests matched theirs. (While the study focused on girls, the same theory would likely work for boys.)
Follow at least four high-achieving women with similar interests to yours.
I love this because it’s easy and free. Knowing that it’s been shown to help is an added bonus.
As a parent and a pediatrician I know that we will not be able to stop teens from using social media. We don’t really want to entirely stop them. They need to learn to use it appropriately as they become mature enough to handle social media.
When parents of teens say they simply don’t allow social media, I caution them that their kids are still exposed in one way or another. (I do think there’s benefit to waiting until teen years. See the Wait Until 8th site for more.)
There’s benefit to allowing a teen to start an account. You can help guide them on appropriate use like any other thing that requires responsibility. We don’t just give them car keys when they turn 16 – we help them learn to dive before giving them free for all with a car. We should also help them learn to navigate the world wide web and all it entails over time, with less guidance as they get older.
I like the idea of asking our kids to follow inspirational accounts. They can search hashtags or start with a person that is known in the field, then look at others who follow that person and see if any are of interest to follow.
What a great way to let our kids learn about their interests in a manner that they will find engaging and socially acceptable!