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American Psychological Association releases health advisory about social media use by adolescents

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Posted at 4:50 PM, May 11, 2023

Social media, a tool that can be used to connect populations, has been found to have the opposite effect in some cases, causing an epidemic of loneliness and isolation among adolescents.

For the first time ever, the American Psychological Association has released a Health Advisory for social media use by adolescents. The advisory includes recommendations for parents to keep their children safe and local health experts say these guidelines are now more important than ever.

“We’re hearing about it more and more — whether it’s a case of bullying, whether it’s a case of feeling isolated — 'I have 400 friends online, but I’m incredibly lonely,'" said Michael Kaplan, Transitions Mental Health Association Community Engagement Director.

“Kids tend to isolate themselves. That’s the number one problem is the isolation that occurs and the absent interaction with other human beings that’s so critical for human development,” said pediatrician Dr. Rene Bravo.

SLO Behavioral Health school-based prevention counselors tell us they are seeing negative trends of increased anxiety and depressive symptoms among local students who use social media.

“There’s a lot of things that can occur, interactions that can occur on social media which are very harmful to kids and to young adults, and so parents need to be very vigilant,” Dr. Bravo said.

He recommends parents download apps to monitor their children's social media use and talk with their children as young as 9 or 10 about social media usage.

“You can’t get too young at this point because we’re finding that younger and younger children have access to iPhones and to computer devices,” Dr. Bravo said.

San Luis Obispo Behavioral Health Student Support Counselor Lauren Rocha says it’s important to balance staying connected with others virtually and in person.

Technology isn’t all bad. Transitions Mental Health Association is taking advantage of the strong ties the younger generation has to technology by making their mental health hotline available via text.

"It’s like the dam broke. We have so many young people texting, calling, reaching out to us, acknowledging that they’ve never called before and it’s just been a tremendous response," said Michael Kaplan, Transitions Mental Health Association Community Engagement Director.

For more information about resources offered by Transitions Mental Health Association, visit their website.

Read the full version of the health advisoryhere.

If you or someone you know needs someone to talk to, the Central Coast Hotline can be reached at 1-800-783-0607.