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Press Mentions

Heavy social media use affects girls’ mental health differently than boys

August 13, 2019

Social media itself doesn’t cause harm, but it can disrupt healthy habits that boost mental health, especially in girls, a new study found.

“The idea is to promote other positive habits rather than saying to kids, ‘You can’t be on social media as much,’” Jill Emanuele, senior director of the Mood Disorders Center at the Child Mind Institute in New York, told TODAY.

Her advice to parents:

  • Everything in moderation, including social media. “We do know that anything in extreme is not good,” she said. “What we’re really trying to understand is: How much is it actually affecting our children?”
  • Kids should be off their screens before they go to bed. That way, they wind down for the day and don’t have their sleep disrupted by their friends’ photos and posts.
  • Find ways to reinforce positive habits, like getting enough sleep and exercise, rather than declaring social media off-limits. “The first reaction parents will have is to say [to kids], ‘You can’t be on social media as much.’ When you tell a kid to not do something, they’re going to do it more.”
  • Encourage kids to track the number of hours they spend on social media: Many don’t actually know and some would probably be surprised.