Adults Are Panicked About Teens and Social Media

Parents and experts in public health have lots to say about what adolescents and girls are doing on their smartphones. We invited teens to share their opinions.

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Psychologists recommend that teenagers should take breaks from social media and think while scrolling: “Do I feel bad about myself while looking at this?” Health experts from the public sector suggest “adult monitoring” and creating clear guidelines on when and how teens are allowed to use their devices. It is recommended that teens set clear boundaries for when and where they can access their phones. doctor general recommends parents ensure that their children’s devices are off for at minimum an hour before bed as well as throughout the night. In Utah, legislators have decided that children younger than 18 shouldn’t be able to access TikTok as well as Instagram without parental approval.

This article is part of ‘Being 13 ,’ a project that examines what life is like for teenage girls in the age of social media.

Adults have spoken out about the negative effects of mobile and social media usage on children and the best way to intervene to safeguard the mental wellbeing of adolescents. However, rarely are teenagers asking what they think would be helpful, or even what they are already doing to develop healthy behaviors. We spoke with girls between the ages of 12 and 17 who have been involved in programs run by Girls Leadership, which is a non-profit organization that helps build confidence and teaches how to responsibly use social media.

Here are their most valuable pieces of advice for teens and also what they would like adults to know.

It’s not necessary to reply immediately.

Reminders to complete your homework. DMs are in every app. Multiple group chats popping up. The notifications seem endless and overwhelming. Niki Shiva, 17, of Hayward, Calif., explained that she had set the phone’s settings to “do not disturb for everyone except mom” to reduce her anxiety. Niki stated that she frequently thinks about whether or not people have responded to her messages, which is why she is careful not to constantly check her phone. Niki also revealed that she has removed the messaging app off her main screenIt’s now hidden in a folder of her library of apps “so I didn’t have to look at the number of notifications.”

Remove yourself from pages and individuals that make you feel uncomfortable.

Many of the teenagers we spoke with said that, whenever possible, they delete profiles from social media accounts that erode their self-esteem. ( Experts agree that this is a great way to practice.) “Your attention is power,” said Janine Edmunds, a 14-year-old of South Jamaica, Queens. “On TikTok, you can select ‘not interested in an image. You can also block those that you don’t agree with. This isn’t a dirty thing, but it’s a matter of “I don’t want you to be in my world.”

Kamryn Nutzel, 16, who is from New Orleans, unfollowed influencers she found to make her feel miserable, and she tries to break the connection when she begins to feel her FOMO getting worse by bathing or applying a face mask or even getting up early. “If I find myself getting in that cycle where I’m comparing myself, I’ll just unfollow the person,” she said. Sometimes, she’ll also uninstall the apps she uses for a week or two, or until she feels better.

Consider, for whom are you putting up for?

Fourteen percent of teenagers across the United States said that what they are exposed to on social media makes people feel closer to what’s happening within their lives and those of their friends, according to Pew Research Center. This is the way Ella Moyer, 17, from Scottsdale, Ariz., is approaching Instagram: “It’s a memory box for you,” she told me it’s a highlight reel of moments to show family and friends such as pictures from her prom. “Every time I open my phone, I don’t see perfect celebrities,” she explained. “I just see my friends.”

Take your phone off and get out!

Research has shown it is important to spend more time in the outdoors in just at two or three hours each week can help us become happier and healthier. Rosalina Pinkhasova, who is fourteen, spent most of this summer at the inflatable pool her family put up in their backyard in Fresh Meadows, Queens. “Sometimes I like to put alarms on to tell me when to stop being on my phone,” she told me.

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