Social media continues to attract younger audiences to phone, tablet screens

Social media continues to attract younger audiences to phone, tablet screens
Published: Feb. 1, 2023 at 6:43 PM CST
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OWENSBORO, Ky. (WFIE) - Three days ago, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said that children ages 13 and under are too young to be on social media.

Recent studies show kids as young as seven are active on social media, sparking continuous federal and state-level conversations on age restrictions.

A recent study showed half of the children aged 10 to 12, and one-third of children aged seven to nine use social media.

“I think some of those warnings about social media effects have to do with the amount of time that teenagers are spending online,” said Dr. Lionel Phelps. “Over 90% of 13 to 17-year-olds are on some form of social media.”

Teenagers are estimated to spend anywhere from three to nine hours a day on social media, according to Dr. Phelps.

A CNN poll says teenagers average just over seven hours a day. Why? It could be for entertainment, social validation, or it could flat-out be a dependency they have learned to pick up on.

“Whatever you model to your teenagers or kids, they’re going to see that and they’re going to follow suit,” Dr. Phelps said.

Dr. Phelps is the Vice President of Continuous Quality Improvement for River Valley Behavioral Health. He says social media by itself is not a bad space.

“You can find ways to express yourself when normally you may feel like you can’t do that,” Dr. Phelps said.

It’s the way it’s used is what carries the negative picture, Dr. Phelps said. Recent pandemic restrictions put most of our lives online, which Phelps says is also an aggravating factor.

The biggest concern he sees in teenagers though is what it can do to their sleep cycles.

“Poor sleep is associated with more depression, more anxiety symptoms,” Dr. Phelps said. “That sleep is super important.”

Dr. Phelps says the best way to mitigate the time their eyes are glued to the screens, is by having a conversation and setting a good example.

“I don’t think it’s going to go away anytime soon, and I think we have to mitigate that by setting clear boundaries and expectations,” Dr. Phelps said. “Also, parents modeling good responsible use of social media.”

There are ways to limit your child’s screen time through the settings on their phone.

Dr. Phelps says the amount of time that’s acceptable for kids to be on their phones could vary.