If you had 5 minutes to talk to a policymaker about social media and mental health, what would you want them to know?

Key recommendations from the Youth Advisory Panel include: 

  • Collaboration and Research: Policymakers should collaborate with mental health researchers to design effective policies that consider demographic variations in impacts.  
  • Regulation and Oversight: Increasing regulation and oversight of social media companies to address negative impacts, potentially through new laws or hearings.  
  • Early Intervention and Education: Addressing the need for early intervention and education on mental health, particularly focusing on youth, and creating mandates on digital literacy education.  
  • Positive and Negative Impacts: Recognizing that social media has both positive and negative impacts on mental health and advocating for policies that promote mental health resources within social media platforms.  
  • Empathy and Understanding: Stressing the importance of empathy and understanding when discussing social media and mental health, acknowledging the complexity and individual experiences within this spectrum.  

Their full quotes are listed below.  

Youth Advisory Panel Feedback to Policymakers

Ronit C.

Youth Advisory Panel

"I would emphasize collaboration with researchers established in the field of mental health (like working with us) to design these policies and highlight how the impacts can vary across demographics. Mechanisms that minimize mindful scrolling and harmful postings should be employed, and I think it is crucial to incorporate some means of limiting screen time close to when teens go to bed due to the negative impacts this can have on sleep and mental health. I would also advocate for the funding of mental health services and awareness programs to ensure that users are aware of the resources that are made available to them when navigating social media and mental health."

Eli G.

Youth Advisory Panel

"I would want them to know some of the specific effects that social media can have on both youth and adult mental health. A lot of research has been conducted and the conclusions for a lot of those studies show that prolonged social media use can cause a lot of negative effects for youth and adult users. There isn't currently a lot of legislation in place that addresses and supports a solution to this problem, and I believe that having policies in place that help lower the negative effects of social media could be an effective tool in combating the negative effects and improving morale online."

Nira G.

Youth Advisory Panel

"I would want them to know that mental health issues among teenagers are only rising and it is important to have mechanisms in place to identify these issues and have interventions. Many schools lack the resources to have this kind of screening or lack the resources to teach teenagers good social media habits. Social media can be positive if teenagers are taught healthy habits to implement. Mental health can also be maintained if teenagers are taught about signs of mental health issues and what to do when noticing those signs."

Alexander A.

Youth Advisory Panel

"Students should be mandated to learn courses on digital literacy that are concise and made by students so they can learn how to use social media and technology safely and understand how to fight against the negatives of social media."

Kaydin K.

Youth Advisory Panel

"I would want the policy maker to understand that social media plays a major role in mental health, both negatively and positively. Things like social media bans are not how youth, and people in general, learn how to navigate social media safely and healthily. I think it is important to focus on both aspects of mental health and build up the positive aspects, work to minimize the negative ones, and work on education for people of all ages about social media use."

Lanie F.

Youth Advisory Panel

"Social Media can be such a vital tool for young people to help feel connected to others! Many people in my school - I go to an online school - are in pretty rural parts of the state, making it especially difficult for those who are minorities and LGBTQIA+ identifying to find friends. Additionally, although social media can be great for teens, it's still a bit too early to see how it affects children. In the future, it might be necessary to enact Internet safety laws specifically tailored towards social media - not just Internet usage like CIPA."

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American Academy of Pediatrics