MIND MATTERS: The effects of social media on kids

Nearly 40% of children ages 8 through 12 use social media.
Published: Jun. 8, 2023 at 1:47 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 8, 2023 at 7:15 PM CDT
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SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - According to the U.S. Surgeon General’s advisory, up to 95% of kids ages 13 to 17 report using a social media platform, with more than one-third saying they use social media almost constantly.

As summer is now in full swing, it’s important to keep an eye out for your child’s mental health and limit the type of content they consume while on summer break.

“Social media can be just as addictive as drugs and alcohol. Like, it’s the same process that happens in our brain that happens when someone gets high,” said Dr. Antwan Butler, LCSW, BACS.

More children are now getting access to social media at a younger and younger age, and with that can come a slew of issues, ranging from depression, anxiety, poor sleep, and low self esteem. Dr. Butler couldn’t agree more. He says social media has risks to children that can’t be ignored.

“Parents definitely need to have a plan for their kids’ social medial usage during the summertime. I know kids are going to get around all the different types of things that we put in place to be able to supervise them, but some of those things are important, like having passcodes on your kids’ devices that you have access to. There are all types of programs that filter your kid’s information,” he said.

According to a 25-page advisory released from the U.S. surgeon general, although age 13 is commonly the required minimum age used by social media platforms in the U.S., nearly 40% of children ages 8 through 12 still use social media.

“You know, kids are kids. They enjoy stuff like that. There is some sense of enjoyment, fantasy type situations. Kids at a certain age are exploring boundaries, so those are natural things that happen with kids, but they should be rooted in some type of moral ethics and values,” Dr. Butler said.


Children’s brains are still developing and using social media can expose them to things they aren’t equipped to deal with just yet. Young adolescents who use social media report a decrease in life satisfaction during their developmental stages. For girls, that age is 11 to 13, and for boys, it’s 14 to 15-years-old.

“One of things that I found super helpful is conversations around social media, developing our kids’ emotional intelligence about what they see, because we know some of these social media platforms, they bait our kids into certain things, so if we can raise their awareness of some of the things that they see, they can start making some of their own independent decisions,” the doctor said.

Some recommendations for protecting your child’s mental health when using social media include creating time limits, monitoring how they’re interacting with others online, and watching how your child responds if you take their phone away.

“When you disconnect the cut, kids off of social media, or even take their devices, the response to that sometimes... there’s aggression. When your kids start hiding their devices from you, they are trying to get around some of the safety measures that you have set up, those are all signs. If your child isn’t able to go 48 hours without being on a social media platform, then that is a good indication that there is something there,” said Dr. Butler.

Parents know their child’s maturity level and coping mechanisms better than anyone else, so they should take precautions before allowing them to be on social media, no matter what their age.

“So I think there is an age range, but I think it has to do more with their developmental age, more than a chronological age,” Dr. Butler said.

The doctor also stresses the importance of having structured time around any activity, and social media is no exception