Social media and technology have normalized how teens connect, socialize, and access information. Numerous benefits and conveniences have been normalized by younger generations, but researchers are identifying specific risks, behaviors, and problems that teens are developing with prolonged spans of time and use. In a study published in the Journal of American Psychiatry, they utilized a sample of 6,595 adolescence ranging in age from thirteen to seventeen, 31% reported using social media for thirty minutes to three hours a day, 12% reported use for three to six hours a day, and 8% reported more than six hours of use a day. Researchers identified a connection between the time spent on social media and various behaviors that are indicative of mental health symptoms or behavior known as, internalizing and externalizing. Externalizing behaviors refer to observable actions or behaviors that can be aggressive, defiant, or rebellious. Internalizing behaviors include isolating, withdrawing socially, suppressing emotions, or others commonly identified as depressive or anxiety symptoms. Researchers within this sample found that 9% internalized, 14% reported externalized behaviors, and 18% reported experiencing both internalizing and externalizing.
Providers at Complete Behavioral Health suggest the following to minimize the externalizing and internalizing behaviors by your teen:
- Setting time boundaries of thirty minutes increments with social media and technology use
- Rotate the use of social media and technology with other hobbies, interests, and activities that are not screen related
- Monitor social media accounts used within the household
- Check in periodically and be aware of any changes emotionally with your teen
- Establish open communication with your teen that validates them when they express their thoughts and/or emotions