COVID-19 Impact on Rise in Social Media Usage

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, social media usage has increased to an all-time high for younger viewers. Caregivers are not alone in expressing concerns about their school-aged children’s social media use. It is at the top of the list for children’s health. A second worry that stems from social media usage is a child’s mental health. School-aged children are often using social media more than they are interacting in creative play.

Caregivers must follow a checklist when looking for possible signs of social media overload:

  1. Do I have a social media use family agreement in place?
  2. How long is my child on social media? Can my child stop using social media when asked?
  3. Is my child using social media safely? Do I have their account passwords? Are parent controls set?
  4. Does my child look like they are enjoying being on social media? Have I checked in with my child to see how they are using and feeling about social media?
  5. Has my child been irritable or upset in the last few months?
  6. Has my child said any negative self-talk comments about themselves in the way they look or overall self-esteem?
  7. Does my child constantly tell me about the new social media fads and what items they need to feel accepted by their peers?
  8. Am I being a positive role model with my social media usage?

Statistics on research for how social media can affect social and emotional development in children:

  • More than (35%) of 13–17-year-olds reported using social media platforms such as YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook.
  • Even though these platforms set a minimum of 13 as an age limit, it is reported that kids ages 8-12 say they have used social media.
  • Nearly 40% of children ages 8-12 use social media.
  • Studies have found young people who use social media more are at risk for developing depression symptoms.

Positives in Social Media:

Social media platforms create a space for individuals to have a positive community or connection with others who share the same identities, abilities, and interests. Specifically, it creates an outlet for self-expression. For youth, the benefits of social media help maintain friendships online and develop social connections.

Negatives in Social Media:

 Cyberbullying: is a risk for kids to experience while accessing social media. Kids are at risk of being teased or harassed online. Caregivers should be monitoring their child’s safety around this.

Time Drain: Kids spend so much time on social media and run out of time to do homework, exercise, sleep, talk to family, etc. Make sure that children have a limit for their media usage so that they can get into a routine.

Inappropriate or Harmful Content: Young children can view content or ads that could be inappropriate for their age. Especially kids who can lie about their age to access a platform. Make sure to monitor your child.

Mental Health:

Kids are at risk for depression or anxiety from social media usage. Make sure to observe how your child is using social media. For instance, if they are posting content and waiting for friends to like a certain post or see that their friends didn’t invite them to a play date, kids can start to feel left out or feel bad about themselves.

Social workers can help with talking about these situations with your child and can help you understand these conditions. They can help children learn skills to challenge their negative thoughts and reframe them to more positive thinking. For instance, social workers can use two evidence-based interventions: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT).

 Checklist for Caregivers to Step in to Help the Problem

  • Implement a family media plan that includes rules for social media use. This can include parents having the child’s passwords to every social media platform they access. If the platform has parent controls implemented, caregivers can set them. It is recommended that a family agree on these terms and discuss a time limit.
  • A time limit is important for the family to maintain social development in their own lives.
  • Make sure that the family is following these rules and that caregivers are role-modeling a healthy relationship. For example, you can put away the phone at family dinner.
  • More importantly, if you notice your child is feeling a certain way after accessing social media, check in with your child on how they are doing. These conversations can include observing what may cause concern and asking about their interest in social media. This can also help to strengthen the parent-child relationship.

When to Seek Out Help:

If you notice that your child is using social media for a long period of time and have concerns about their emotional development, social workers can help talk to your child. If your child’s emotional development is of concern due to social media, social workers can help work with your child to uncover what they have experienced and how to help them. Common changes in behavior due to social media use would be an increase in anxiety, depression, sleep issues, lack of self-esteem, etc. Social workers can use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy to help your child understand negative thoughts and what is in and out of their control. Your child can learn strategies when experiencing intense emotions and how to use those skills to help reframe positive thinking.

It’s OK to Ask for Help:

As a caregiver, it can be hard to help navigate social media and keep your kids safe. You are not alone in this; let’s work together to help create a healthy social media plan with your child. This information is not meant to overwhelm you or cause stress.

Additional resources: 

Negative Effects of Social Media (

Teaching Kids to Be Smart About Social Media (for Parents) – Nemours KidsHealth

Social Media and Youth Mental Health (

Social Media & Your Child’s Mental Health: What the Research Says –

Eyas Landing is a therapy clinic with a mission to provide evidence-based and family-centered therapy services for children, adolescents, and their families. The primary goal is to deliver relationship-based interventions within the most natural environments and to empower families to reach their full potential. To achieve this goal, our highly educated, compassionate staff dedicates time and expertise to create experiences that maximize therapeutic outcomes. The strength, determination, and perseverance of our clients are evident as they succeed in therapy, and ultimately in their daily lives.

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