LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Social media is part of most of our lives. Most adults can remember when we weren't dependent on an app but, for teens they more than likely don't know life without them.
A recent editorial in the medical journal Pediatrics calls on pediatricians and other healthcare providers who specialize in caring for children and adolescents to ask questions on what kinds of apps kids are using and how much time they spend on social media.
Researchers say gathering information on teenagers' social media activities may provide a more complete picture of their risk for mental health concerns. All Norton Children's Medical Associates already ask patients and their parents about social media use including asking patients how much time they spend on social media per day. This can lead to questions about whether children and teens spend too much time on social media, if they've experienced cyberbullying and if they think social media impacts their self-esteem.
Doctors say research shows excessive social media use may contribute to teens developing depression, stress, and anxiety.
"It's important to ask questions and start a conversation to find out what's really going on," Dr. Stephen Johnson, pediatrician and child psychologist with Norton Children's Medical Associates – Springhurst, said.
Dr. Johnson adds that social media checkups also need to happen outside of the doctor's office. He offers tips parents can use year-round:
• Understand what your teen is doing online, including learning about the sites and apps they're using.
• Communicate what you consider to be appropriate behavior and establish consequences for if they cross that line.
• Set screen limits. Examples include no phones at the meal table or removing the device from the bedroom before bedtime.
• If you're concerned or have a question about your teen's social media use, talk to them.
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