“I think as a parent, you have to set your own limits and boundaries,” says Dr. Warren Ng, medical director of outpatient behavioral health at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center and director of clinical services for the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital. “I always say for parents and kids, practice what you preach. How can we have some ground rules, such as when can devices be on, when is Wi-Fi off? Saying as a family, let’s all commit to each other’s health and do this together.”
Dr. Shannon Bennett, site clinical director of the NewYork-Presbyterian Youth Anxiety Center, points out that it’s not just about the amount of time we spend on social media, but how we engage on the platforms that can affect our mental health.
“If we’re using social media as a tool to connect or to find information with people or groups that we’re actively engaged with in our real life, then it can be very helpful,” says Dr. Bennett, who is also an assistant professor of Psychology in Clinical Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medicine. “But it’s really just the passive scrolling that can increase anxiety, increase depression and take time away from other activities. That’s why it can be important to turn devices off so that kids have unstructured time to play and to think, and to get outside and to do other things that are disconnected from electronics.”