Some Kids Turn to Social Media When They Worry: Does It Help? - Nemours Blog


Some Kids Turn to Social Media When They Worry: Does It Help?

All kids feel worried at times, just like adults. And when they worry, they look for ways to feel better. A recent national survey by Nemours® KidsHealth® looked at “What’s Worrying America’s Kids,” where they go for help, and how they cope.

The survey showed that many kids ages 9–13 find it helpful to talk to a trusted relative or friend when they’re worried. Another effective coping strategy is doing something creative, such as playing music or painting. And in this digital age, it’s not surprising that kids also turn to technology for comfort. This includes video games, TV, and social media.

A little more than half the kids (59%) who responded to the survey reported that social media makes them feel better when they’re worried. But this leaves almost as many kids who are not helped by social media when feeling stressed.

Some parents wonder whether social media itself can cause more stress, and many aren’t sure how to navigate their children’s social media use.

The truth is, it’s complicated. Whether social media can help kids overcome their worries depends on many things, including:

  • The child: Their maturity level, health, mental health status, and personality all can make a difference.
  • The context: When, how, and why a child uses social media matter. For example, connecting with friends on social media can be comforting. But watching other kids having fun together can be sad and stressful when a child is not included. Learning a new recipe or craft can be positive and calming. But viewing violent or dangerous content can have the opposite effect.

What can parents do to help their child use social media in a positive way?

  • Keep the lines of communication open. Talk to kids about their social media experiences. Ask them to tell you if they see something that bothers them. Have conversations about anything they want to talk about, and reassure them that they can come to you with concerns.
  • Agree on some household rules for using social media safely and wisely. Rules may differ between families or even for children in the same family, and that’s OK. Let your children help to set the rules so that they buy in and aren’t simply told what to do. Be sure to follow the rules yourself so that your child has a good role model to follow.
  • Choose social media limits sensibly. If you’re concerned that social media use adds to your child’s worries, don’t simply take away their device. This can make your child even more upset if they rely on those connections for comfort and reassurance. Work with your child to figure out the source of their worries, let them know you understand and guide them through a coping process.

Talk to your child’s doctor if you feel your child has worries that:

  • they can’t seem to overcome no matter how much you try to help
  • affect their sleep, eating, life at school, or other daily activities
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