The American Psychological Association (APA), the world’s largest association of psychologists, announced Tuesday that it has developed the first health guidelines and principles for adolescent social media use. In connection with the lawsuits launched in recent years, the question of how social media affects the mental health of adolescents has come to the fore more than ever, but the professional association has now come to the point of making recommendations in writing, and emphasizes that after appropriate preparation and information for young people they should register on social media, similar to how drivers can drive a car after obtaining a driver’s license.
The APA does not condemn social media, instead stating that online networks cannot be said to be inherently beneficial or harmful, popular services should be used judiciously. The recommendation does not mention platforms by name and tries to provide more general advice for dealing with concerns about children’s online lives, based on previous research.
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Although the psychologists focus on the role of the parent, they also condemn the algorithms that promote posts that lead young users to self-harm, eating disorders, racism and hatred. Some recommendations refer to the agenda and Internet habits of young people, and it details the signs and “red flags” that may indicate unhealthy social media use. The APA emphasizes the importance of sleep and exercise for overall well-being. Insufficient, poor quality or little sleep affects the development of the nervous system of adolescents and can even disrupt their emotional life, thereby increasing the tendency to commit suicide or depression. Some of the health advice advises limiting the time you spend on social media.
According to the APA, the potential effects of social media vary from person to person, as many real-life circumstances and the child’s basic personality traits influence how certain content affects him. The organization draws parents’ attention to the use of parental supervision tools available in the services, but overall recommends a level of parental supervision appropriate for their age, who are also encouraged to review their own habits, as the parent’s attitude and potential bad habits can serve as a model for the adolescent. Overall, the organization believes that optimal social media use varies from child to child: a function of maturity, self-discipline, intellect, and home environment, so it may look different from household to household.
The announcement highlights that little research is currently available on the subject, thus calling for more serious investments to make as much data as possible available in the future. In the absence of substantiation, the APA cannot therefore declare whether social media is useful or harmful for young people, especially with regard to the risks of harmful content and the effects on socialization.
Source: HWSW Informatikai Hírmagazin by www.hwsw.hu.
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