ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — We know our kids are on their phones and tablets, seemingly all the time. One study out of the UK published this time last year sheds some light on what kind of an impact social media, specifically, can have on young adults. And local experts say this study supports a call for more research into age and use.
The study out of the UK based jounal, Nature Communications, examined the relationship between social media use and life satifsaction, and how that relationship changes during adolcescent development. Local psychiatry experts say this supports the call for more research into age use, specifically.
Researchers analyzed two UK data sets of more than 84,000 between the ages of 10 and 80.
The findings suggest the more a teen uses social media during specific age windows (for example girls between the ages of 11 and 13) could have a correlating negative impact in overall life satisfaction.
“This new study tells us that age is really something we need to be thinking about. That younger kids seem to be more negatively affected by social media than older ones, but that’s still a very broad brush,” says Dr. Anthony Psani, PhD. AABP.
Dr. Anthony Psani is an Associate Professor in URMC’s Psychiatric and Pediatrics department, and with the Center for the Study and Prevention of Suicide. The mental health expert weighs in on the critical component of that age window of sensitivity. And if you’re a parent, what does this mean?
“Another thing we know from research, and this goes back 40 and 50 years, before social media is that parental monitoring and connection are key for adolescent development. That hasn’t changed with technology.”
Dr. Psani says he believes its well within parents rights, especially if they are paying for the phone and-or cell plan, to be thoroughly engaged in their teen’s phone. For some families that may mean re-establishing boundaries, which is also okay.
“I would suggest that you do that with them. If you can tell your child, I want to have access to see what your’re looking at, who you’re talking with, but I’m going to do it with you, and you can hold the phone. That can be a gentle way into this conversation,” Dr. Psani adds.
Another quick-tip for parents navigating social media use for their child: a time bank. Dr. Psani gave an example of a parent concerned their teen wants to download the app, TikTok. If there is a set amount of ‘social media time’ each day, whether that’s Facebook, Instagram, or otherwise, a new app does not equal more time.
How social media affects teen mental health: a missing link (Feb. 2023) | https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-023-00402-9
Association of Habitual Checking Behaviors on Social Media With Longitudinal Functional Brain Development (Jan. 2023) | https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/article-abstract/2799812
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