Social media and how it is threatening children’s mental health

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – As we continue to observe Mental Health Awareness Month, a warning from the U.S. Surgeon General, cautioning parents about the impact social media can have on a child’s mental health.

State leaders are looking for ways to address this public health issue, and locally, 22News hears from Behavioral Health Network representative Katherine Mague about steps that parents can take at home, in an effort to curb some of these troubling trends. Mague telling 22News, “It was designed with the intention not to stop, and you scroll and scroll and there’s no end.”

Are you concerned with how social media is impacting your child’s mental health?

Top U.S. officials say you should be, the U.S. Surgeon General warning in a report, that widespread social media use amongst kids and teens poses a significant mental health risk. In the report, data show that 95 percent of youth ages 13 to 17 uses a social media platform, and more than one third of teens say that they use social media almost constantly.

“Young people don’t have those strong skills in regulation, so they rely on external boundaries to help them regulate, the problem with social media is there are none, and so parents being aware of that, can help set the limits,” Mague says. “Because what happens is, the scroll and scroll, instead of sleeping, instead of studying, or getting physical activity.”

The report also touching on concerns about social media leading to lower life satisfaction, worsened self-esteem, and depression, and even exacerbate eating disorders.

State leaders on Beacon Hill, wanting to put policy forward, to address this issue, and potentially harmful algorithms on social media. Senator John Velis of Westfield and Chairman of Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery Committee, telling 22News, “We have data suggesting that, for a young girl, who has an eating disorder, having something pop up on her feed about diet pills.”

Velis adds, “It’s about finding that happy medium where we can protect our kids from the worst intentions in the world from some of these producers of this content, while at the same time understand that there is some good for social media.”

Wednesday, mental health experts also saying that parents should lead by example when it comes to being on your phone and social media.

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