Social Media Addiction and Your Teen

The Familial and Adolescent Health Survey, conducted by Gallup, found that teens spend a daily average of 4.8 hours on various social media platforms.

The top three most popular platforms reported by just over 1,500 participants were YouTube, TikTok and Instagram.So, what influence do parents have on screen time?

According to Gallup’s survey, only 29% of teens reported using social media for at least four hours per day when they had parents who strongly agreed that they restricted their teen's social media use. On the other hand, among parents who strongly disagreed that they restrict their teen(s) social media use, 59% of those teens reported using social media for at least four hours per day.

There are many good reasons why parents should limit screen time for their children. One reason is that screen time can expose them to harmful content (eg. pornography, online predators, cyberbullying). According to a study conducted by Common Sense Media, “Among all teens who participated in the survey, most (54%) reported that they first saw online pornography when they were 13 or younger, including 15% who reported they had seen pornography before they turned 11. Teens indicated that they were learning about sex from the pornography they consume.” Screen time can also negatively affect children mentally, emotionally and physically. Along with that, it can encourage unhealthy habits like isolation and addiction.

As parents, you are the primary educators and influencers of your kids. Social media may play a role in your child’s life, but YOUR influence is one that matters most.

Here are some ways to positively influence your kids’ time spent on social media!

  1. Model a healthy relationship with screen time when you’re around your child. As parents, your daily screen time habits can impact your child’s screen time habits. If they see you constantly scrolling on your phone, they may do the same because you’re modeling this behavior to them. Evaluate your own habits and change them if needed.
  2. Actively be involved in conversations regarding social media. Talk about the positives of social media (connecting with friends, creativity, discovering information) and the dangers of social media (inappropriate content, potential online predators, mental health issues). Foster openness in sharing their experiences using social media and how you can help create a life that includes social media but doesn’t revolve around it.
  3. Set screen time limits, designate times for screen usage or for screen-free time during the day, and/or restrict certain apps. Explaining your reason for this may be helpful for their understanding.
  4. Create experiences with your child that don’t revolve around social media. Set aside portion of the day to spend time with your child that isn’t watching a movie or just scrolling on your phones near each other. Playing a board or card game, engaging with your child by intentionally talking with them about their life, going outside, engaging in an activity with them that they enjoy, and getting your child involved in a sport/music/church activity/etc. are great ways to encourage time away from technology.