The American Psychological Association has issued recommendations such as media literacy training and parental monitoring for teen social media use.

APA formed an advisory panel to create guidelines for helping teens, parents and communities navigate how adolescents should be using social media.

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What are the recommendations for teen social media use? The APA detailed 10 recommendations for teens using social media:

  1. Youth that use social media should be influenced to use platforms “that create opportunities for social support, online companionship, and emotional intimacy that can promote healthy socialization.”
  2. Teens should only use social media that fits their “developmental capabilities,” as some platforms and accounts are for adult use.
  3. Adult supervision and guidance in early adolescence is advised and can gradually decrease as a teen ages into adulthood and gains more “digital literacy skills.”
  4. Posts should be reported, removed and minimized from adolescents that contain content involving “illegal or psychologically maladaptive behavior” or that “encourages youth to engage in health-risk behaviors, such as self-harm, harm to others, or those that encourage eating-disordered behavior.”
  5. “To minimize psychological harm, adolescents’ exposure to ‘cyberhate’ including online discrimination, prejudice, hate, or cyberbullying especially directed toward a marginalized group or toward an individual because of their identity or allyship with a marginalized group should be minimized.”
  6. “Adolescents should be routinely screened for sins of ‘problematic social media use’ that can impair their ability to engage in daily roles and routines, and may present risk for more serious psychological harms over time.”
  7. “The use of social media should be limited so as to not interfere with adolescents’ sleep and physical activity.”
  8. “Adolescents should limit use of social media for social comparison, particularly around beauty- or appearance-related content.”
  9. “Adolescents’ social media use should be preceded by training in social media literacy to ensure that users have developed psychologically-informed competencies and skills that will maximize the chances for balanced, safe, and meaningful social media use.”
  10. “Substantial resources should be provided for continued scientific examination of the positive and negative effects of social media on adolescent development.”
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Why is this important? The Deseret News reported that there has been a rise in “adolescent health challenges that closely paralleled increased digital media consumption back in 2017.”

Teen girls today are “growing with a rising number of external pressures, making their transition into teen and adulthood far more psychologically disturbing than it used to be,” according to CNN.

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What are people saying? “Social media is neither inherently harmful nor beneficial to our youth,” said APA President Dr. Thema Bryant. “But because young people mature at different rates, some are more vulnerable than others to the content and features on many social media platforms that science has demonstrated can influence healthy development.”

The APA panel report determined that their conclusions on what the guidelines should be came from research that is publicly available to anyone who wishes to read further.

“Just as we require young people to be trained in order to get a driver’s license, our youth need instruction in the safe and healthy use of social media,” Bryant said.