Social Media and Youth Mental Health

This past week, United States Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy released a new Surgeon General’s Advisory on Social Media and Youth Mental Health – PDF. Dr. Timothy Jeider of Moriah Behavioral Health and Nevada Mental Health agrees with the Surgeon General’s sentiment in the released advisory. Dr. Jeider says access to data could shed some light on the changes we are seeing with youth.

“Kids are not doing well,” Dr. Jeider said. “We knew that screen time was an issue for adolescent mental health prior to the pandemic, and then out of necessity we went fully online for years during Covid. Since this shift, we’ve seen a decrease in resiliency and decrease in frustration tolerance, and it seems it could be related to social media usage.”

“Online social skills are completely different from in-person face-to-face interactions. When all responses are thought-out and scripted, as opposed to on-the-fly during an in-person conversation, it affects our ability to develop healthy confrontation skills. Confrontation is actually necessary for developing emotional regulation, and the constant minute-by-minute feedback that we get through social media disrupts the healthy breaks we need from stimulation. When kids come home from school, the activities and interactions of the day should be left at school, not follow them home and continue for hours until they go to bed,” Dr. Jeider said.

Dr. Jeider also said parents should look at their own social media habits and evaluate if they are modeling healthy screen time and behaviors. Dr. Jeider says until we gain access to the data we need to effectively analyze the effects of extended social media usage, we need transparency and partnership with the social media companies to understand if the changes the behavioral health community is seeing in youth are causal or merely coincidental.