Social media can be the most wonderful (and stressful) place.
It’s where millions of people go to find community and feel connected, and yet, studies have shown that the increased use of social media often leaves folks feeling even more isolated. It’s where budding young stars can build their following and pursue their passions, and yet, there’s the risk of online bullying and negativity.
And the repercussions, for kids, are actually quite tangible. According to a 2015 study from the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, adolescents who use social media for social comparison and feedback-seeking are more likely to have depressive symptoms, and research from a 2016 study in the Journal of Adolescence linked higher levels of social media for kids with poorer sleep quality, lower self-esteem and increased anxiety.
The craziest part? These systems are actually designed to manipulate people’s emotions and keep them addicted.
“They are legitimately exploiting the very nature of what makes us human,” says Jessica Fortunato, Psy.D, a therapist and specialist in technology addictions. “It’s kind of like a grand experiment happening and we’re all guinea pigs in this, and people who suffer the most are the youth.”
But what can parents do to help? And what signs can they look out for when it comes to toxic social media habits? Read on for more details on how to recognize these signs and how to respond, according to the experts.