Psychiatrist at Piedmont Macon offers tips to regulate screen time after Surgeon General’s warning
The Surgeon General released a warning this week that excessive social media use could be harmful to an adolescent’s development.
MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – The Surgeon General released a warning this week that excessive social media use could be harmful to an adolescent’s development.
Social media is a great tool for helping people connect with friends, but for children and teenagers, spending too much time online can lead to negative outcomes.
According to Dr. Christopher Denham, Resident Psychiatrist at Piedmont Macon Medical Center, social media apps are designed to keep users engaged for as long as possible.
“It’s working on that dopamine pathway in the brain,” he said. “They’re very adept at creating algorithms to keep people on Facebook and Instagram for hours on end.”
The Surgeon General’s advisory on social media states the amount of time kids spend online and what type of content they consume could interfere with sleep or exercise and lead to symptoms such as anxiety, depression or low self-esteem.
Dr. Denham says apps with features like filters or photo editing can lead teens to have a false perception about themselves and their peers.
“There’s just so much pressure to be something they shouldn’t even be in the first place, because the reality is the person that’s using the filter is just as imperfect as them,” he said.
If you want to regulate screen time, Dr. Denham recommends replacing social media with something like reading or going for a walk.
Consider using parental control apps to set a limit on screen time and talk with your kids about how they feel when they use social media.
“I think it all boils down to balance,” he said. “Social media is not bad. I think it’s an incredible gift and tool if you use it in the right way, but I think it does have the impact to have some pretty profoundly devastating consequences.”
If you’re concerned about your child’s mental health, Dr. Denham suggests reaching out to their teachers or school counselor for help. He says you can also call Piedmont Macon Behavioral Health or other mental health hotlines.
You can read the Surgeon General’s full report here.