In Survey, Half of U.S. Parents Believe Social Media Is Harming Their Children

Despite that, fewer parents said they were comfortable talking to their children and teens about mental health compared with a year ago
a boy on the ipad
a boy on the ipadAdobe Stock

WEDNESDAY, May 3, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- Half of U.S. parents think social media is bad for their children's mental health, a new survey reveals.

The finding highlights growing concerns about how these platforms affect children's and adolescents' well-being, according to the On Our Sleeves Movement for Children's Mental Health, which had the Harris Poll conduct the survey. The program encourages parents to help their children by talking regularly about how using social media makes their children feel.

While in the past year some platforms like TikTok have introduced new safety measures and lawmakers have talked about limiting access, that is not enough, the researchers said.

"This is a positive step, but parents can't trust that this is enough," said Ariana Hoet, Ph.D., clinical director of On Our Sleeves and a pediatric psychologist at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. "Social media has the ability to increase anxiety and depression in children when used inappropriately, as well as potentially open them up to inappropriate sharing, hurtful language, bullying, and more."

The survey questioned more than 2,000 U.S. adults, including more than 700 parents of children younger than 18, in late March and early April. The number of adults who said social media has a positive impact on children's mental health fell to just over one-third. It was 43 percent in 2022. Despite the results, fewer parents now said they were comfortable talking with their children about mental health -- 86 percent compared with 91 percent in 2022.

On Our Sleeves offers free guides with tools to start conversations about social media, as well as strategies on how to set boundaries and keep children safe.

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