Currently, nearly all US teens are active on at least one social media platform (eg, TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, SnapChat). While social media has the potential to enhance social connection among youth, multiple studies have shown an association between social media use and adolescent depression and anxiety.

Scope in Pediatrics

  • Approximately 92% of US teens are active on social media. [Pew Research Center]

  • US children start using social media around 11 years of age.

  • The average US teenage girl spends over 2 hours each day on social media.

Teaching Points

  • Social media has the potential to help children and adolescents feel more connected to peers, which is especially important during times of social isolation.
  • Paradoxically, teens who spend a great deal of time on social media report high symptoms of loneliness, depression, and anxiety. Work with families and schools to promote understanding of the benefits and risks of media. [AAP Policy]
  • Pediatricians can talk with teens about healthy social media use and encourage families to create a Family Media Use Plan using
  • Pediatricians can screen teens who are highly active on social media for signs of depression and anxiety.


For Physicians

Related AAP Policy

AAP COUNCIL ON COMMUNICATIONS AND MEDIA. Media Use in School-Aged Children and Adolescents. Pediatrics November 2016,  138 (5) e20162592; DOI:*

Digital Advertising to Children. Pediatrics July 2020, 146 (1) e20201681; DOI:  

Reid Chassiakos YL et al., Children and adolescents and digital media. Pediatrics. 2016;138(5):e20162593

Related AAP Resources

Clark DL et al., HEADS4: Social Media Screening in Adolescent Primary Care. Pediatrics 2018*

Other Resources

Best P et al. Online communication, social media and adolescent wellbeing: A systematic narrative review systematic review, Children and Youth Services Review. 2014*

Common Sense Media. Social Media. In: The Common Sense Census: Media Use by Tweens and Teens. New York, NY: Common Sense Media; 2015:39–41*

Influence Central. Kids & tech: the evolution of today’s digital natives. 2016. Available at: http://influence-central. com/kids-tech-the-evolution-of-todays- digital-natives. Accessed June 4, 2021*

Kelly Y et al., Social Media Use and Adolescent Mental Health: Findings From the UK Millennium Cohort Study. Eclinical Medicine, 2018*

Pew Research Center, Teens, Social Media, and Technology Use. 2018. Available at: Accessed June 4, 2021.*

Riehm KE et al . Associations Between Time Spent Using Social Media and Internalizing and Externalizing Problems Among US Youth. JAMA Psychiatry. 2019*

*Sources used to develop content


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Special Acknowledgment

The AAP gratefully acknowledges support for the Pediatric Mental Health Minute in the form of an educational grant from SOBI.