Too much screen time: Teens and unhealthy social media use

According to a study by The National Institutes of Health, the proportion of young people in the U.S. between the ages of 13 and 17 years who own a smartphone is 89%, more than double the amount just six years ago.  Consequently, 70% of teenagers use social media multiple times per day.

Evidence suggests that too much time spent on social media leads to an increase in mental distress, self-injury, and suicidality among youth – especially among girls.

Heavy social media use can:

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  • Negatively affect adolescents’ self-esteem and interpersonal relationships
  • Decrease social and emotional functioning
  • Increase cyberbullying
  • Normalize and even promote self-harm and suicidality
  • Lead to chronic sleep deprivation
  • Negatively affect academic performance

Things you can do to limit your teen’s time spent on social media:

Model good behavior. Set a good example of social media and technology usage. When you are with your child, put down your phone. Establish healthy and productive routines such as dinner without technology.

Unplug and get outside. Being outside with your child can enhance your bond with them. Go for a hike in the woods, explore a new park, or go for a walk around the neighborhood. 

Encourage them to participate in sports or extracurricular activities and offer to drive them to a friend’s house for some real-life face time.

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Set electronic curfews for the whole family. Enforce bedtimes and do not allow them to have access to technology overnight.

If you know a teen who may need treatment for a behavioral health issue, we offer no-cost assessments 24/7. Reach out to us today by calling 800-457-9312 or find more information about our inpatient, residential and outpatient telehealth teen treatment options at wbihelp.com.


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