A new report(opens in a new tab) The American Psychological Association (APA) provides parents of adolescents with information that is often difficult to find: an up-to-date and comprehensive list of recommendations for social media use.
Included in the APA’s 10 recommendations are sensible tips, such as monitoring social media usage judiciously, limiting the time spent so it doesn’t interfere with sleep and exercise, and minimizing usage for social comparisons, especially when it comes to contextual content with beauty and looks.
The report also emphasizes the importance of regularly screening pre-teens and teens for “problematic” social media use and providing social media literacy training to help them develop skills such as questioning the accuracy of content they are using seeing them, and developing an understanding of tactics for spreading misinformation.
Written by a panel of experts focused on adolescent mental health, the recommendations are intended to reach out to policymakers, educators, mental health clinicians, technology companies and adolescents, in addition to parents and carers.
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“It has to happen by everyone if we’re going to protect children,” said Dr. Mitch Prinstein, co-author of the guidelines and chief science officer of the APA, told Mashable.
The authors write that while social media isn’t good or bad per se, it can benefit or harm teenagers depending on how they use it — and how tech companies shape their products. They point out that social media use should also reflect a teenager’s home environment and maturity, including their intellectual and emotional development, and how well they can understand the risks.
while it is It is difficult to prove a direct causal relationship between screen use and negative mental health effects, the authors base their recommendations on studies that suggest a link, with some caveats.
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The recommendations specifically focus on minimizing exposure to harmful content, including content that depicts illegal behavior, self-harm, harming others, and the promotion of eating disorders. Likewise, teens should not be exposed to “cyber hate,” which includes online discrimination, prejudice, hatred or cyberbullying against a marginalized group, as such content can increase the risk of mental health problems, the report said.
The authors write that teens “should be trained to recognize structural online racism and to criticize racist messages” as an antidote to psychological distress after seeing traumatic racial events online.
They also call for social media literacy training that “maximizes opportunities for balanced, safe, and meaningful use of social media.”
“Just as we require young people to be educated to obtain a driver’s license, our youth need guidance on how to use social media safely and healthily,” said APA President Dr. Subject Bryant in a statement.
Although the authors mention the role that product design decisions like notifications and algorithms play in driving certain types of content and engagement, they don’t take a stand on the regulation of social media companies, as some do critics and politicians(opens in a new tab) have done.
But Prinstein, drawing on the report’s comprehensive recommendations, noted that companies could be tasked with redesigning their products specifically for brain development, publishing their privacy policies in language accessible to teens, tools to build social media proficiency directly into their platforms and much more More aggressively identify and remediate cyberhate.