American Psychological Association Warns of Social Media’s Potential Harm to Children

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The American Psychological Association (APA) is warning, for the first time, about social media’s potential harm to kids.

“Right now, I think the country is struggling with what we do around social media,” Dr. Arthur Evans, CEO of the APA, said, according to a report by NPR.

On Tuesday, the APA released an advisory recommending for teens, parents, teachers, and lawmakers, to help guide them when it comes to teenager’s use of social media. This comes as kids deal with high rates of depression, anxiety, and loneliness.

schoolkids using smartphones

schoolkids using smartphones ( dolgachov/Getty)

The advisory reportedly provides ten recommendations, which summarize new scientific findings and suggest that parents monitor their children’s social media feeds, as well as become familiar with social media literacy.

The APA advises that parents routinely screen their kids for signs of “problematic social media use.”

“Is it getting in the way of your child’s sleep and physical activity? Is it getting in the way of their school, or other activities that are important in their development?” Evans asked. “Or is it hard for them to detach from social media? Do they lie so they can engage with it?”

The APA also recommends that parents minimize or stop their children from being exposed to dangerous content, such as posts regarding suicide, self-harm, eating disorders, racism, and bullying.

While this advice may seem obvious, this type of content is reportedly more common in children’s social media feeds than parents might realize.

The report cited a recent survey of teenage girls, which revealed that 40 percent of them see images and videos related to suicide at least once a month on Instagram and the Chinese app, TikTok.

As Breitbart News reported, a study earlier this year found that regular use of social media is also linked to changes in the brains of teenagers. This is especially troubling in light of the fact that the most popular social media platform for American teenagers is TikTok, which pushes harmful messaging on teens as soon as they sign up for an account.

Moreover, a study last year found that social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok are negatively impacting users’ finances, as well as causing nearly half of Generation Z and Millennials to feel unhappy about their financial situation.

In its report, the APA also recommended that parents limit the use of social media for beauty or appearance-related comparison, as research indicates that social media usage is linked to poor body image and depressive symptoms, especially among girls.

The APA also cautioned parents to mind their own social media usage, citing research that suggests the manner in which adults use social media can also affect their children.

The report also made suggestions for lawmakers, such as implementing a “reporting structure” to identify and remove content on social media that depicts “illegal or psychologically maladaptive behavior,” such as self-harm and eating disorders.

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Facebook and Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.


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