102: The Link Between Social Media and Mental Health
Technology has developed a lot throughout the years and it has been affecting people’s lives both positively and negatively. Nowadays, most children heavily use mobile phones and other technological devices mostly for the purpose of entertainment.
In fact, it has been said that the average time a teenager spends is 7 hours and 22 minutes. While technology has brought many benefits to us, it has also introduced new challenges impacting the mental well-being of many people due to heavy reliance on technology, specifically on social media.
It’s important for us to discuss this link between social media and mental health because these technology and devices aren’t going away. We just really have to know how to manage their technology or social media usage to avoid any negative impacts on our kids’ mental health.
We just need to balance everything.
Although challenging, we need to balance our kids’ playtime, social interactions, screen time, and everything else. Social media can indeed be addictive and the excessive use and time consumption badly affects a kid’s productivity, sleep patterns, and real-life social interactions.
Social interactions are very important when it comes to developing communication skills and emotional intelligence. And so, it’s better to encourage your kids to spend time with their friends and family and continue building meaningful relationships beyond social media.
You can encourage your kids to engage more in physical activities and outdoor play to lessen their excessive use of social media and technology. Active play helps with physical development, social skills, and creativity. It's also an excellent way for them to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
I often get asked how much time kids should spend on social media. There is actually no certain period for that since every family is different. So the best way to know what works for you is to assess the situation and take into consideration different factors.
The difference between passive screen time and engaged screen time.
Not all screen times are bad. As parents, we have to stay involved in our kid’s online activities and monitor their screen time regularly to know the kinds of content they are viewing and to know who they are interacting with. We have to promote responsible internet use and cyber safety especially at such a young age.
The notion that screen time is something bad is associated with passive screen time which should be distinguished from engaged screen time, particularly when we speak of its impacts on mental health. When it's passive, it is more associated with mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and more. Some examples of passive screen time are scrolling through social media and browsing the internet aimlessly.
On the other hand, engaged screen time is associated with better mental health as it involves interactive activities. It could be in the form of video calls with friends and family, playing internet games, and many more.
Putting boundaries around technology.
Anxiety is associated with excessive computer use considering that there are many stressors on social media platforms that can worsen one’s anxiety symptoms. That’s why setting boundaries to limit excessive use is also beneficial in promoting good mental health.
Excessive screen time can also have negative effects on your kid’s sleep quality which can result in increased anxiety levels. Rather than mindlessly consuming content for extended periods, individuals can focus on engaging in purposeful activities that promote positive mental health.
It's essential for us to take a balanced and mindful approach to screen time. As parents, let us continue promoting more interactive activities while limiting passive and potentially harmful usage.
For more information about the effects of screen time and how to better manage your kids’ screen time to promote healthy media usage, you can read the following blog posts: