Earlier this year, the U.S. Surgeon General Advisory published a study on Social Media and Youth Mental Health on the effects of social media on adolescents and children. The study showed no conclusive evidence that social media is safe for youth. What may seem like an innocent TikTok account to post dancing trends or an Instagram account to follow even wholesome celebrities can lead to depression and anxiety. Based on the U.S. Surgeon General’s Advisory, up to 95% of teens and 40% of children aged 8-12 are on social media. The younger the child, the greater social media’s impact on their developing brain.
Bullying, secrecy, low self-esteem, anxiety, eating disorders, and body dysmorphia are a few things that can occur because of social media. We are especially concerned about these issues over the summer when kids are out of routine, not in school with teachers, counselors or coaches. As a parent, you can be on the lookout for drastic or subtle changes in behaviors in addition to monitoring social media activity for the children in your life.
Regularly examine your child’s behavior and ensure they are doing regular activities like showering, dressing for the day, eating meals, and keeping a regular daily routine. Personal hygiene, or lack thereof, is a major red flag for depression and suicidal thoughts among teens. By giving your children a safe space to open up, they might express their emotions, fears and concerns more freely.
Questions to ask can include: “What are you thinking about?”, “What worries you?”, and if there is a real concern, ask your child directly, “Are you thinking about suicide?” Additionally, getting a young person who is experiencing suicidality excited about upcoming events can help them see the future, beyond their suicidal thoughts.
If you think your kids need help, consult with your child’s pediatrician for a mental health referral. If you believe your child is experiencing a crisis, seek help immediately.
Youth Villages offers a 24/7 crisis hotline to assess and evaluate youth, up to age 18, who are experiencing a psychiatric emergency.
Anyone in crisis or searching for help for someone in crisis can call the Tennessee Statewide Crisis Hotline:
- 1-855-CRISIS-1 (1-855-274-7471)
- Crisis TextLine – Text “TN” to 741741
If you are located in another state outside of Tennessee, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline:
- Dial 988
Youth Villages is one of the largest providers of services to children in Tennessee and a national leader in children’s mental and behavioral health. The organization has been recognized by the Harvard Business School and U.S. News & World Report and was identified by The White House as one of the nation’s most promising results-oriented nonprofit organizations. Learn more at www.youthvillages.org.
Crisis services are available 24/7 if your child needs support. Call 855-CRISIS-1 or text CONNECT to 741741. If you have thoughts of suicide, contact 988 to be connected to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.