Half of parents think children’s mental health worse due to social media, survey finds

Parents are noticing a troubling change in their children after using social media platforms like Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram, according to a new survey.

The survey of 2,035 American adults found that 50 percent of parents with children younger than 18 feel their child or children’s mental health has suffered in the last year because of social media use.

“Social media has the ability to increase anxiety and depression in children when used inappropriately, as well as potentially open them up to inappropriate sharing, hurtful language, bullying and more,” said Ariana Hoet, a pediatric psychologist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

The survey, conducted by The Harris Poll for the Nationwide Children’s Hospital, adds to the growing body of research linking social media use among children and depression, anxiety, addiction and poor body image.

Social media use among children, especially teenagers, has soared over the last two decades. In 2009, only about half of teens used social media every day, but by last year, 95 percent of teenagers said they use social media, according to a poll from the Pew Research Center.

Some platforms, including TikTok, have introduced new safety measures for teen users, such as a 60-minute time limit. The company has also pledged to send teen users a weekly recap of their screen, urging those users who spend more than 100 minutes per day on the app to consider curbing their screen time.

A handful of state lawmakers have also introduced legislation to limit children’s access to social media. Last month, Utah became the first state to codify the effort into law, passing a pair of bills aimed at changing how children interact with social media platforms.

The first bill requires parental consent before children can sign up for social media sites such as Instagram and TikTok. The second bars kids from using social media between 10:30 p.m. and 6:30 a.m. and requires age verification for anyone in the state seeking to use social media.

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