Did you know that electronics and social media can have a significant impact on a child’s mental health? In fact, it can be so powerful that it can affect their development and well-being.
As parents and caregivers, it is important to be aware of the dangers that can come from overuse of electronics and social media. It’s also important to be thinking about ways you can model healthy use and protect your children from negative outcomes.
In this blog post, I will share five ways electronic and social media use can negatively affect childhood mental health. I will also provide some practical tips on how to set healthy habits, boundaries and work to keep your children safe online!
1. Phone Overuse
One of the most common dangers of social media is overuse of electronic social interaction, often through a tablet or phone. Addictive behaviors begin with a pattern of compulsive engagement and moves to unhealthy attachments to viewing and maintaining proximity to an electronic device [i.e. phone] with feelings of withdrawal when asked to live without it.
Not only is phone/tablet social overuse dangerous for the child’s mental health, social skill development and emotional health, it can also be harmful to their physical health. Children who demonstrate addictive behaviors to tablets or phones are more likely to develop obesity and other health problems.
To protect your children from tablet or phone addiction, set time limits on how much screen time they are allowed each day. Make sure they have plenty of other activities to do outside of using electronics! Maybe even think about having a bag of “different toys” or pocket games for times when children have to wait to avoid feeling like they need to be electronically entertained.
Also, try to model healthy tablet and phone use habits for your children. Find times during the day to create “electronic free” times. This can be hard but try starting with 5 minutes a day with all electronics off and have some fun questions to ask each other to promote in person social interaction. My favorite question cards currently are called “Little Talk.”
2. Social Development
Second, I’d like to highlight the primary dangers electronics and social media can pose (when used without moderation) on healthy social development . Specifically, it is important to consider that when children lack in-person interaction, research shows clear underdevelopment in important social skills such as reading non-verbal cues of human emotion and the use of others to regulate their responses.
Over time, unchecked social media access can lead to problems in personal relationships and make it difficult to form friendships in the real world.
Another danger of social media is that it can have a negative impact on children’s self-esteem. When children are constantly comparing themselves to others online, they can start to feel inferior and unhappy with themselves. This can lead to problems such as depression and anxiety.
To discover if your child may be struggling with anxiety, click here to download our FREE guide, 15 Signs of Childhood Anxiety.
In addition, social media can also promote negative body image and premature interactions with “sexualization” being “beautiful”. When children are constantly exposed to images of “perfect” bodies, they can start to feel insecure about their own appearance and make choices to act in ways they “think” will make them feel good.
This can lead to eating disorders, sexual issues and other mental health problems.
4. Mental Health
Perhaps the biggest danger of social media is that it can have a negative impact on children’s mental health. When children are constantly exposed to cyberbullying, violence, and pornography, it can lead to problems such as depression, anxiety, and in extreme cases, even suicide.
Making sure to have regular conversation with your children about what they may see and are seeing as well as your family values and rules is crucial. I appreciate using the books as really great conversation starters with my kids on media usage and if you’re looking for suggestions here’s a blog post I wrote: 5 Books Every Grade School Parent Should Know About Internet Safety.
5. Inconsistent Sleep
In addition to the dangers of social media, there are also some dangers associated with using screens in general. One such danger is inconsistent sleep.
When children are exposed to screens late at night, it can disrupt their sleep cycle and lead to problems such as insomnia and fatigue. To protect your children from the dangers of screens, make sure they have a set bedtime and stick to it! Also, try to limit screen time before bedtime.
And lastly, encourage your children to participate in other activities that don’t involve screens. This will help them get a good night’s sleep!
How to Protect Your Children from Social Media Dangers
There are several things you can do to protect your children from the dangers of social media.
Here are a few tips:
- Talk to your children about the dangers of social media and make sure they understand what is appropriate online behavior.
- Set rules for your children regarding internet usage, and make sure they are followed.
- Install parental control software on your children’s devices to help monitor their online activity.
- Keep the computer in a common area of the house so you can keep an eye on what they are doing online.
- Encourage your children to spend time offline and to interact with friends in the real world.
- Supervise your children’s internet usage.
By following these tips, you can help protect your children from the dangers of social media and ensure they have a healthy childhood! And if you need additional support, schedule an appointment today with one of our child therapists. We’re here to help.
Owner | Child Therapist | LCPC, RPT
Parenting is hard! But you don’t have to do it alone. I work with children and parents to resolve emotional conflict, cultivate healing, and nurture hope.
Ask Us Anything!
We help anxious kids and frustrated parents. We serve Hinsdale & the Western Suburbs of Chicago.
Made with ♥︎ in Hinsdale, Illinois for Chicago
Built By Brand Your Practice.