(TND) – The American Psychological Association has issued recommendations on how to protect children and adolescents from the negative effects of social media use.
The group’s new health advice includes insights and advice aimed at parents, schools, tech companies and lawmakers.
According to the APA, the use of social media is neither fundamentally good nor bad for young people. And each child’s experience of this differs based on many factors, including their maturity, home environment, and social circumstances.
The APA says it’s difficult to draw any conclusions about cause and effect of social media use among young people and that the long-term consequences into adulthood are largely unknown.
However, these recommendations are based on the latest findings from rapidly evolving research on the impact of social media use on young people.
Recommendations include that significant resources should be devoted to further scientific study of the positive and negative effects of social media use.
The APA is also committed to social media skills training for young people.
They should be taught about digital citizenship in a way that helps them better spot inaccurate or harmful content, understand the signs of problematic social media use, and nurture healthy online relationships.
Other recommendations are:
Young people should be encouraged to use social media for social support and online camaraderie. For example, a teen with anxiety or depression may benefit from social media interactions that allow for greater control, practice, and review of social interactions. Or LGBTQ youth could find support and information helpful for their psychological development, the APA says.
Social media usage and functionality such as “like” buttons and endless scrolling should be tailored to young people’s developmental abilities. What works for adults doesn’t necessarily work for teenagers.
Adult supervision and discussion are particularly important in early adolescence. According to the APA, autonomy can gradually increase as children grow older and as they acquire digital skills. Restrictions on social media and discussions between adults and children produce the best results.
Content that engages in risky or harmful behavior, such as suicide or eating disorders, should be minimized, reported, and removed. Reporting structures should be put in place to easily identify harmful content and ensure it is downgraded or removed, the APA said.
Online discrimination, prejudice, hatred or cyberbullying should be minimized. Young people should be trained to recognize structural racism online and to criticize racist messages, says the APA.
Children and young people should be monitored for signs of problematic social media use, such as: B. A strong desire to use social media or interference with other activities.
Social media use should not interfere with sleep and physical activity. Teens should get at least eight hours of sleep each night, the APA says.
And teens should limit their use of social media for comparison purposes, especially content related to appearance. It can also be potentially harmful for a young person to pay undue attention to their own photos and the feedback they receive.