Mental health: Parents denounce the harmful impact of social media

What effect can social networks have on the mental health of younger generations? While some of the effects of inappropriate social media use on children’s physical health are now well known, it is difficult to assess the damage they may have on well-being and self-esteem.

However, this is what worries more and more parents, some of whom are beginning to feel overwhelmed by the phenomenon, as a new study conducted in the United States shows.

Widely regarded as one of the most important public health problems of our time, along with a sedentary lifestyle, mental health is currently the focus of much scientific research, as well as new prevention strategies.

This is especially true when it comes to the mental health of children and adolescents, which has deteriorated significantly since the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to data published by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2021, one in seven young people aged 10 to 19 (14%) experience mental illness.

But does the pandemic alone explain this deterioration in young people’s mental health? Not according to the children’s parents.

According to a study conducted in the United States, they believe that social networks play a major role in influencing their children’s well-being.

An impact on self-esteem

Conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of The On Our Sleeves Movement For Children’s Mental Health, the survey* reports the concern felt by the majority of parents about the role social networks play in the development of mental disorders in young people.

Half of the surveyed parents of children under the age of 18 believe that their child(ren)’s mental health has deteriorated over the past 12 months as a result of social media.

In addition, the number of parents who feel comfortable discussing mental health issues with their children has dropped from 91% in 2022 to just 86% in 2023.

The survey also found that more than two-thirds of parents surveyed (69%) believe that image editing tools and filters popular on social media negatively impact their children’s body image – or self-esteem.

The majority of parents also agree (65%) that appearance-related topics on social media, such as diet and exercise, have a negative impact on the body image of younger generations – those under the age of 18.

“A child’s feelings about their body can affect their mental health. We know that social media can influence everything from purchasing choices to perceptions of beauty, and unfortunately, children are the most vulnerable to unrealistic body image expectations posed by these platforms.

“Children on social media can be exposed to thousands of messages every day about how they should look, what they should do and who they should be,” explains Dr. Sleeves Movement, quoted in a press release.

The importance of communication

The research highlights some positive aspects of social media, be it communication, information, solidarity or the fight against loneliness and isolation, but these seem to be increasingly overshadowed by more harmful effects.

Just over a third of Americans (35%) now say social media has a positive impact on children’s mental health, compared to 43% in 2022, despite the fact that some of these platforms have already implemented several security measures. are .

“This is a positive step, but parents cannot trust that this is enough. Social media has the ability to increase anxiety and depression in children when used inappropriately, potentially opening them up to inappropriate sharing, hurtful language, bullying and more,” explains Dr. Ariana Hoet, clinical director of On Our Sleeves and child psychologist out. at the National Children’s Hospital.

The health professionals working with this movement, which advocates for children’s mental health, encourage parents to talk to their children. In particular, they recommend talking about their children’s favorite content, channels or influencers, developing a plan in advance to manage their online time, and talking about good practices they can adopt on social networks.

In addition, this includes warning children of the potential dangers they may encounter on these platforms, or reassuring them that they can seek help from an adult if they have a problem.

“Be curious about what your child is doing on social media. Taking an active role in their social media engagement, rather than simply limiting their exposure, can help them feel comfortable asking questions, raising concerns and seeking help when they need it,” says Dr. Hate – AFP Relax News

*The survey was conducted online in the US by The Harris Poll on behalf of On Our Sleeves from March 30 to April 3, 2023 of 2,035 US adults ages 18 and older, including 711 parents of children under the age of 18.

Mental health: Parents denounce the harmful impact of social media

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