More than half the world now uses social media sites such as Facebook, X, and Instagram every day. The average user spends about 2 hours and 23 minutes on these platforms clicking, liking, and replying to content sent from around the world.

Research has demonstrated, however, that too much social media can have negative effects on mental health. This appears to be especially true for children and young adults. Here are some ideas to help ensure social media use does not become a problem, especially for your children.

  • Limit time. At least two separate studies have shown a correlation between more than two hours of daily social media use and negative mental health symptoms. Consider limiting your family’s use to less than two hours a day. Many in the tech community say no to their children using these social media platforms all together. Others require phones and electronic devices to be checked in when at home and restrict their use during the school week.
  • Set bedtime limits. Stop all social media use for at least one hour before bedtime. Then turn off all electronics and place them outside of bedrooms to avoid disruptions. Neither brightly lit electronic screens nor upsetting online content right before bed tend to promote restful sleep.
  • Discourage mobile use. If excessive social media use is common in your family, consider deleting the apps from your phones and only allow social media use from a home desktop computer. This will help you control the amount of use and avoid the distraction throughout the day.
  • No private social media. Ensure you have access to all social media accounts of your children and review them periodically.
  • Use real names. Having you and your kids use your real names and identities when using social media may seem risky, but experts at the youth social media advocacy group say it actually promotes positive use and avoids negative interactions and communities. It also helps teach kids to be responsible users who are conscious of the risks and consequences of online activity. But beware of the downsides as well. This includes targeted bullying and potential stalking.
  • Find real communities. Use social media to join communities devoted to your favorite hobbies and interests. Talk to your kids about the communities they’ve joined and the interactions they’re involved with to make sure they are using social media for positive experiences.
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