ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The more time kids spend on social media, the greater impact it has on their mental health according to Dr. Jennie Noll, Co-Executive Director at Mt. Hope Family Center and Psychology Professor at the University of Rochester
“So things like depression, anxiety, eating disorders, all have roots in how social media is impacting how kids think about themselves, and how they interact with their peers,” said Dr. Noll.
This issue has lawmakers and school districts across the country, including local schools, looking for solutions.
Here in NY state two recently introduced bills aim to limit social media features harmful to youth mental health. One would limit “addictive” features on social media that have been called harmful to youth mental health. The other would limit the collection and sharing of a minor’s personal data without consent. The proposed bills have the support of Governor Kathy Hochul, Attorney General Letitia James, teachers’ unions, and parent groups. They would have to pass the state legislature before the governor could sign them into law.
In addition, two local school districts announced a few weeks ago that they will join hundreds of others around the country in a consolidated lawsuit against social media companies to hold them responsible for student struggles with mental health.
“The ideal outcome is actually getting reaction from social media to do something to regulate social media.” said Mary Grow, Superintendent in East Irondequoit. “So that there are some controls around social media where parents and caregivers are aware of what their children are looking at…And there’s accountability on the part of social media to answer to those risks that are created for our students mental health.”
According to Grow, mental health issues in schools are becoming more prevalent with some students expressing feelings of depression, suicidal ideations, and other serious mental health issues.
One of the most important thing parents can do is mediate and give their kids tools for dealing with problematic social behaviors, and interactions to help them figure out how to think before they hit Send.
According to Dr. Noll part of the wider solution may be to partner with mental health providers to mitigate some of these issues.
Experts say that Kids don’t stop developing until around age 25 so it’s not too late to help set those boundaries — even for a 16 year old.