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Quick Dose: Is My Kid Addicted to Social Media?

Social media can be a great way to keep in touch with others and create a sense of identity. Behind every like, tweet and snap, however, lies a powerful force that can lead to addiction.

Children are using smartphones earlier and more often. One report shows that children under nine are already spending more than two hours a day on smartphones. By the time they are teens, 94 percent go online every day, with 71 percent using more than one social media platform. This is particularly important as their brains are still developing, and can play with their emotions.

Here are some signs your teen might have an addiction to social media:

  • They are unable to enjoy activities without sharing or posting. Encourage them to be in the moment.
  • They neglect responsibilities. Look for signs their schoolwork and participation in activities are declining.
  • Relationships are suffering. Are they unfriending in real life or phubbing you at the kitchen table? If you’ve answered yes, you might want to take a second look.
  • They obsess over posts. It’s no myth: Those likes can impact your mood. Pay attention to how often they’re online and how much weight they place on their posts.

As a parent, set clear ground rules and establish time limits when it comes to screen time. Learn the signs of cyberbullying and watch for changes in their behavior. If problems persist, seek the help of a trained professional.

–  Anoop K. Vermani, MD, Northwestern Medicine Regional Medical Group, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry