National Day of Unplugging: Expert Advice on Navigating Social Media for Parents and Kids

HomeNational Day of Unplugging: Expert Advice on Navigating Social Media for Parents and Kids

By

Rebecca Edwards

Mar 01, 2024

2 min read

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Image: DonaldBowers, iStock

Today is the National Day of Unplugging, an excellent opportunity for everyone to examine their screen time and social media habits. Parents and guardians are increasingly concerned about the impact social media has on their children’s mental health. With states taking legal action against social media giants over content and targeted ads aimed at teens and tweens, the need for guidance in managing screen time has never been more pressing.

Navigating social media and screen time
In light of these concerns, we reached out to mental health expert Jennifer Kelman, LCSW, of Just Answer, for insightful commentary on navigating the complexities of social media and screen time for families.
“Scrolling through social media can seem like a fun activity, but it has its downsides, and there are many,” Kelman emphasized. “More and more kids are finding themselves feeling anxiety and depression after using social media. Likes, comments, shares are great—but when they are not forthcoming, kids experience anxiety, thinking there’s something wrong with them if their posts aren’t getting attention.”
Kelman stressed the importance of limiting screen time and social media use to maintain children’s well-being. “Resist the feelings of FOMO and know that it’s okay to put restrictions on social media use,” she advised. “Kids find that after a digital detox, they feel better, and anxiety lessens since they are not seeking validation from external sources.”

What parents should watch out for
Identifying warning signs of overuse and its impact on mental health is crucial. Kelman outlined signs such as increased anxiety, depression, and anger when attempts are made to limit use. “Keep conversations open with your kids so you can discuss their feelings around social media use or how they are feeling when they aren’t scrolling,” she advised.
Another recommendation Kelman offered is to delay social media usage as long as possible, even if friends are already engaged. “When the time is right, perhaps start one account on one platform, but only if you have the password and access to that account,” she suggested. “Regularly check in with your kids to ensure they haven’t set up a private account.”

Parents need to lead by example
Kelman also highlighted the importance of leading by example. “Keep an eye on your social media use and be fully present with your kids when you’re together,” she urged. “Plan more device-free family time and engage in activities that challenge and build self-esteem.”
“Self-esteem can never come from a device or strangers on social media,” Kelman emphasized. “Encourage activities where children can build a sense of efficacy around their accomplishments, fostering lasting confidence.”
As families observe the National Day of Unplugging, Kelman’s advice serves as a timely reminder of the importance of mindful technology use and prioritizing mental well-being in the digital age.

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Disclaimer: Portions of this article were assisted by automation technology. All content therein has been augmented, thoroughly edited, and fact-checked by our in-house editorial staff of human safety experts.

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Written by

Rebecca Edwards

Rebecca is the lead safety reporter and in-house expert for SafeWise.com. She has been a journalist and blogger for over 25 years, with a focus on home and community safety for the past decade. Rebecca spends dozens of hours every month poring over crime and safety reports and spotting trends. Her expertise is sought after by publications, broadcast journalists, non-profit organizations, podcasts, and more.
You can find her expert advice and analysis in places like NPR, TechCrunch, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Miami Herald, HGTV, MSN, Reader’s Digest, Real Simple, and an ever-growing library of podcast, radio and TV clips in the US and abroad.

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