It’s becoming increasingly clear that many more young people are experiencing difficulties with their mental health and well-being than ever before.
There could be many reasons behind this, such as Covid, increased pressures as schooling standards increase and greater awareness and assessment of conditions such as childhood depression and anxiety
However, what seems increasingly clear is the link between mental well-being and social media. Figures suggest that mental health issues, including self-harm and suicide, have doubled since 2010 when mobile phones became commonplace.
How can we manage this for our young people? What needs to happen? It’s a difficult area to regulate, especially with so many social media platforms.
One approach is to think about boundaries. In the days before social media parents could give their children instructions on where they could go, i.e., to a friend's house or to the park and when they’d need to be home; dinner time. The same arrangement is possible with devices - a clear guideline as to what is acceptable in your household, such as how many minutes/hours of screen time a day/week and the times that you give your child permission to use devices; Saturday morning’s 9 am for two hours.
Getting a clear routine will help your child to know when they will be able to use their phone/iPad. Clearly, this may not go down well if your child has not had boundaries around screen time before, however, you will be helping them not only with healthy time away from their device but also through helping them understand boundaries - an essential life skill. You may also refer back to how you are helping them keep safe and well - just as you would have said that they can’t cross a motorway when out visiting their friends.