Welcome to Parent Pixels, a parenting newsletter filled with practical advice, news, and resources to support you and your kids in the digital age. This week:
Last week, New York City Mayor Eric Adams issued a health advisory about social media due to its impact on children. Mayor Adams designated social media an “environmental health toxin,” stating, “Companies like TikTok, YouTube, [and] Facebook are fueling a mental health crisis by designing their platform with addictive and dangerous features. We can not stand by and let big tech monetize our children's privacy and jeopardize their mental health.”
The health advisory aligns with findings from a recent survey published by Common Sense Media, which examined the state of kids and families in America in 2024. Based on responses from about 1,220 children and teens aged 12–17 nationwide, more adolescents are concerned about their mental health today than were previous generations.
Some notable statistics from the survey:
Social media isn’t the only factor impacting the youth mental health crisis. In a conversation with Education Week, Sharon Hoover — co-director of the National Center for School Mental Health — pointed to a range of factors that could be contributing to declining mental health among kids and teens, such as housing insecurity and food insecurity. These issues were exacerbated by the pandemic, to the point that living in an area with more severe COVID-19 outbreaks was deemed a risk factor for youth mental health symptoms.
Last year, the U.S. Surgeon General issued a health advisory warning that social media is a concern for adolescents. Excessive social media use is associated with depression and anxiety, as well as downstream effects from negative impacts on sleep quality. The key word here is “excessive” — it’s important for parents to set guardrails around the level of access kids have online, including how much time they spend on social media (and screens in general).
Here are some places to start:
Social media monitoring refers to supervising your child’s activity on social networks, such as Instagram and TikTok. The most effective plan for monitoring a child’s social media accounts employs a mix of approaches. Here are some options to explore.
A frustrating number of parental control settings are designed in such a way that kids can easily bypass or even change them, rendering them all but useless. Luckily, there are options which allow parents to set boundaries and have some peace of mind.
👀 Do social media insiders let their kids use platforms like Instagram and TikTok? Parents working at large tech companies said they did not trust that their employers and their industry would prioritize child safety without public and legal pressure, the Guardian reports.
📱 Meta has rolled out a few updates for teen users: new “nighttime nudges” will remind teens to go to sleep when they use Instagram late at night, and Instagram will restrict strangers from sending unsolicited messages to teens who don’t follow them. Meta will also allow guardians to allow or deny changes in default privacy settings made by teens.
🏛️ The Florida House has passed a bill to ban social media accounts for users under age 16. The bill doesn’t list which platforms would be affected, but it targets any social media site that tracks user activity, allows children to upload material and interact with others, and uses addictive features designed to cause excessive or compulsive use.
📍 With just a few pieces of information, this TikToker can pinpoint your exact location — and it’s a great lesson in online safety.
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