As families gear up for back-to-school season, AAP offers custom guidance to help families navigate their children’s social media use with confidence
Washington, DC– The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has launched an online platform with expert information to help families navigate healthy social media use. Part of its new Center of Excellence on Social Media and Youth Mental Health, this platform aims to support parents, educators, and healthcare professionals looking to understand the best child development practices for media use from pediatricians who know the research.
The AAP Center of Excellence on Social Media and Youth Mental Health received a federal grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in September 2022 to establish a national center of excellence on social media and mental wellness, as part of the administration’s strategy to address the national mental health crisis.
Research shows that 95% of adolescents use some form of social media and younger children regularly engage with video platforms like YouTube and TikTok. With back-to-school season around the corner, the AAP knows families and communities will be facing new questions and challenges when it comes to understanding what children of all ages are experiencing on computers and phone screens and how it may affect their well-being. The AAP’s new platform, which includes a question-and-answer portal, is designed to provide a safe space for parents, caregivers, educators, and healthcare professionals to learn about the most effective ways to help children and teens be smart and self-regulated around media. The AAP invites all to visit aap.org/socialmedia to explore the portal and engage in the conversation.
“We know parents can feel overwhelmed,” said Megan Moreno, MD, FAAP, a pediatrician specializing in adolescent mental health and technology and co-Medical Director for the Center. “We also know the current media narrative isn’t always serving people well. Through our portal, we’re answering parent questions one on one with the best available evidence, while offering ways to help children grow up resilient, engaged, and mentally healthy in this digital world.”
In addition to answering parents’ questions directly through its online portal, the AAP Center of Excellence on Social Media and Youth Mental Health is committed to expanding the larger conversation around children and teens and technology, shifting the media narrative away from one based on fear toward a more productive and balanced perspective.
The AAP’s new portal offers a user-friendly interface where visitors can view previously answered questions or submit their own questions about topics surrounding social media use, digital technology and youth mental health, like cyberbullying and screen time concerns. A team of expert pediatricians and mental health professionals review and respond to these inquiries, providing pragmatic advice and tailored answers supported by science. This platform complements the AAP’s Family Media Plan, which helps families build a custom guidebook to make technology work in their homes.
Jenny Radesky, MD, FAAP, a developmental-behavioral pediatrician and co-Medical Director for the Center, emphasized the significance of this platform, stating, “We are thrilled that an accessible platform like this now exists to demystify the digital world and offer practical solutions to everyday concerns. We aim to help parents and young people understand the digital design practices that make it hard to stop using media, the algorithms that shape what we see, and how to build insight into our emotional relationships with technology. Our goal is to promote a healthy mindset toward tech while also emphasizing the other ways families can support emotional and behavioral health in children and teens.”
“There are social-emotional benefits to using social media, but there are also potential risks, especially for developing children and transition-age youth,” said Miriam E. Delphin-Rittmon, PhD, Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use and the leader of SAMHSA. “We are delighted to see the AAP establish this new center of excellence and look forward to learning more about how we can better protect young people from those risks. We’re also really glad to see that, as part of this new center, the AAP has created tool that directly help parents and caregivers navigate this issue.”
For more information, see the AAP Center of Excellence on Social Media and Youth Mental Health at aap.org/socialmedia and to view or submit questions, visit the AAP Social Media and Youth Mental Health Q&A Portal.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 67,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults.