The American Psychological Association has released a health advisory regarding social media use in adolescence. You can read it online or download the PDF. It is full of good advice, warnings, and things to watch for in this realm. Every parent should read it… preferably with their teenagers. It leads to good conversation and learning
Also, adults should take a lot of this advice into their own lives. There are way too many adults that are absolutely locked into their own social media feeds.
I agree with much of what was written in the document. If I were to give three pieces of actionable advice for parents, it would be these three things:
- There is no reason that phones should be in bedrooms over night. Buy an alarm clock for waking up. Buy a HomePod for listening to music before bed. Designate a time and a place outside of the bedroom where phones need to be plugged in to charge over night. The sleep is way too important and the escape from social media and notifications is just as necessary. (See #7 on the list.)
- Do all you can to understand the monitoring options available to you. This could mean you need to setup a parent account on the social media app so your child can be connected with you. This makes it possible for limitations to be set and also it can help you review where you child has spent their time. It’s best to review it with them. I find that most kids like help and prefer to be on the same team. If you have iPhones, setup Screen Time. It’s not perfect, but it’s definitely better than nothing. At a minimum it will let everyone know where their time is spent on the phone. (See my post “Technology and Families“)
- All social media is not created equal. Some use brings opportunity where friendships are built, accomplishments are encouraged, and connections are made. With this understanding, I would say that right now TikTok is absolutely the one to avoid. Do not allow it on the phone of your teenager. This has nothing to do with the political ban aspect. I also understand why the app is very entertaining. The issue is that the app is simply too effective in all the wrong ways. Young brains don’t have the ability to use technology with intent. It captures even great kids. Make a deal with your kids to keep it off their phones, even if it means a little more time in other social media apps.
Overall, I’m glad that good organizations are doing the research into these important matters. I’m grateful our society provides experts in areas where we all need some help.