COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — How young is too young to be on social media?
On Sunday, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said he believes that age is 13 years old. In addition, a study by Jama Pediatrics found that habitually checking social media can alter the brain chemistry of adolescents.
Meta (the parent company of Facebook), Twitter, and TikTok all allow 13-year-olds to join their platforms.
Murthy said parents should keep their children off of social media until they reach 16.
One local doctor said it’s not that simple.
“You know your child best,” said Dr. Arian Hoet, a pediatric psychologist. “Their brains are developing, and so if adults have a hard time limiting their social media screen use, kids are definitely going to have a hard time, so it’s something to think about definitely.”
Hoet is also the clinical director of “On Our Sleeves,” the movement for children’s mental health with has resources to help adults help children by starting conversations around social media, helping them navigate it, and educating them on how to stay safe online.
She said it all comes down to asking yourself – as the parent – the tough questions.
“How do they manage peer pressure?” Hoet said. “Are they confident in themselves, do they compare themselves a lot to other kids, so those are all the questions we’re thinking about more than the age-specific guidelines. It’s more of, ‘Is that child developmentally ready?’”
Hoet said that based on the answers to those questions, parents can decide what’s best for them.
But it doesn’t stop there; Hoet said it’s very important to not give access and then just back off. Adults need to be responsible for monitoring children’s behavior and usage.
“Parents want to monitor any changes in the child’s sleep, their behavior, their mood,” she said. “Are they not doing other things because they’re losing track of time, spending so much time on their screens.”
If you’d like to learn more information about links to start conversations with your kids or tips to monitor usage, click here.