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COLUMBUS, Ohio — Half of parents believe their children’s mental health has suffered due to social media use in the past 12 months, according to a new survey. The research indicates that concerns continue to grow regarding the impact of social media on the mental well-being of young people.

The Harris Poll on behalf of The On Our Sleeves Movement For Children’s Mental Health conducted an online survey of more than 2,000 American adults, including over 700 parents with children under 18 years-old.

On Our Sleeves encourages parents to have regular conversations with their children about the potential effects of using certain social media platforms. However, only 86 percent of parents reported feeling comfortable discussing mental health with their children, down from 91 percent in a similar poll the previous year. In response to the growing concern for children’s mental health online, platforms such as TikTok have introduced new safety measures over the past year.

“This is a positive step, but parents can’t trust that this is enough,” says Dr. Ariana Hoet, the clinical director of On Our Sleeves and a pediatric psychologist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, in a media release.

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While social media can help build a sense of community, relationships, and self-understanding, it can also increase anxiety and depression in children when used inappropriately, as well as expose them to inappropriate sharing, hurtful language, and bullying, explains Dr. Hoet.

“Be curious about what your child is doing on social media. Taking an active role in their social media engagement, instead of simply limiting their exposure, can help them feel comfortable to ask questions, report concerns, and seek help when they need it,” she advises.

The survey found that only 35 percent of respondents believe that children’s social media use has a positive influence on their mental health, down from 43 percent in 2022. It’s important that parents and caregivers understand the pros and cons of social media use and maintain open communication about children’s online experiences, Dr. Hoet emphasizes.

“Through On Our Sleeves, parents can work to build trusting relationships that allow their children to reap the benefits of social media while minimizing the risk of negative outcomes,” she concludes.

South West News Service writer Stephen Beech contributed to this report.

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