The Jed FoundationParent Guide: Social Media & Mental Health
Launching a conversation about time spent online can spark defensiveness in a young person, especially if it is an adult who initiates it. Try asking questions in an open way that helps you understand their experience and the role social media plays in their overall well-being and life.
Sharing too much information about one’s life or feelings can have negative consequences, especially for young people who do not have a lot of experience in knowing what is and isn't safe to share online. Share your perspective on what is appropriate to share, and remind them that anything posted in public is potentially out there forever. This conversation could be an opportunity to note that decisions have consequences, and that we make better decisions when we’ve taken a step back to think first.
We want young people to be inspired by social media, to feel empowered to explore new things and make changes in their lives—or the world! However, it’s important to check in and make sure your teen isn’t becoming discouraged by feeling that they don’t measure up to an unachievable ideal. Young people compare themselves to others more than almost any other age group, often with negative consequences. Having conversations about how people’s lives on social media can appear “perfect” when they actually aren’t can be incredibly helpful, as can encouraging them to follow people who are just as inspiring but more relatable.
Social media can be a kind and supportive community, and people often open up about difficult subjects in order to create awareness or find support. For the most part, these conversations are positive and productive; however, at times, a community member may be in real distress. Let them know it's okay to report concerning behavior, including bullying. Most platforms have tools that allow you do so anonymously.