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Psychologists warn of social media’s potential harm to kids

Amid a youth mental health crisis, the American Psychological Association has issued recommendations for guiding teenagers’ use of social media. As NPR reported, the advisory, the first of its kind from the APA, is aimed at teens, parents, teachers and policymakers. 

There’s mounting evidence that social media can exacerbate and even cause high rates of depression, anxiety and loneliness, experts say.

“Right now, I think the country is struggling with what we do around social media,” says Arthur Evans, CEO of the APA. The report, he says, marshals the latest science about social media to arm people “with the information that they need to be good parents and to be good policymakers in this area.”

The 10 key recommendations in the reportNPR reported, summarize recent scientific findings and advise parent on actions, such as monitoring teens’ feeds and training them in social media literacy, before they begin using these platforms.

However, some therapists and clinicians say the recommendations place too heavy a burden on parents. Cooperation from tech companies and regulatory authorities might be required for any reforms to stick.

“We’re in a crisis here, and a family’s ability or a parent’s ability to manage this right now is very limited,” says Robert Keane, a therapist at Walden Behavioral Care, an inpatient facility that helps teens with eating disorders. “Families really need help.”