Building a healthy relationship with social media

Unlike generations before, today's young people spend a large portion of their time on social media or using technology. And because they've been using them since a young age, they're also very good at it.

Whether learning at school or relaxing at home, kids can now access everything they need at the tap of a button.

There are many social media apps that young people use, with TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram popular choices. Most of these apps have age restrictions; however, kids often ignore them to 'fit in' with their peers.

While these platforms have valuable benefits, it's essential to understand how they can take a toll on kids' mental health and academic attainment when used unhealthily.

Based on recent studies, school-aged students use social media for 2.5 hours a day on average. While this doesn't seem like something to be too concerned about, spending this amount of time on social media can lead to:

  • Difficulty maintaining attention and focus
  • Engaging in risk-taking behaviour (depending on material viewed)
  • Low mood, anxiety or depression
  • Using social media as an unhealthy coping mechanism
  • Avoiding tasks, homework and study
  • Reduced quality of sleep (when viewed before bed)

When talking with your children about their social media habits, it's essential to listen to them and refrain from making assumptions.

Social media isn't always bad and has many benefits, such as connecting with friends and learning new things.

Many children enjoy using social media, and instead of banning it, we should be working to reinforce healthy boundaries and restrictions at home. 

An excellent way to start is by limiting screen time to 2.5 hours a day and turning off screens at least an hour before bedtime.

It's also important to place appropriate boundaries based on your child's age.

When having this conversation with your child, it's essential to acknowledge the many benefits of social media, such as:

  • Academic tools or resources, e.g. educational videos on TikTok
  • Learning new skills, e.g. how to cook
  • Staying connected to their friends/peers (particularly during isolation periods)
  • Organising gatherings with friends
  • Keeping up to date with the latest trends or interests for their age group

In a world where technology is constantly evolving and is a constant at school and in the workplace, it is better to encourage healthy use of technology rather than taking an avoidance approach.

If you're looking for more tips or your child is struggling with social media, you can read more or contact the pastoral care team in your child's sub-school.

Jon Marginis
Lead Psychologist

Learn more about our Wellbeing programmes