A Parent’s Guide to Social Media

As School Starts Again, Here’s How to Support Your Kids’ Mental Health

As fall approaches, the U.S. youth mental health crisis, while acknowledged by the government, has yet to show significant signs of improvement. For the third year in a row, the COVID pandemic will play a large role in the 2023-2024 back-to-school season, especially as hospitalizations are rising once again, per CDC data. Plus, it’s become impossible for anyone, including children, to escape the onslaught of relentlessly depressing headlines, whether it’s climate change or widespread gun violence – which, of course, includes school shootings.

COVID put a spotlight on kids’ mental health, and data tells us the pandemic has had a profoundly negative impact on it. According to studies from the US Department of Health and Human Services, anxiety in kids from ages 3 to 17 increased by 29 percent from 2016 to 2020. Depression increased by 27 percent.

Parents are all too aware of the problem. According to a 1000-person poll by Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, 71 percent of parents believe the pandemic had taken a toll on their child’s mental health. Notably, 67 percent said they wished they’d been “more vigilant about their child’s mental health from the beginning.”

It’s not always easy to talk to your kids about mental health, but now more than ever, it’s crucial to do so — and you don’t have to go it alone. We spoke to experts about how to approach mental health conversations with sensitivity and openness, because the most important thing is to let your child know you’re there for them, no matter what they’re going through.

Yes, It’s Possible to Raise ‘Conservative Kids in a Woke City.’ Katy Faust Explains How.

Many parents, regardless of their religion, quote this biblical truth found in Proverbs: “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” 

But in today’s culture, parents aren’t the only ones seeking to “train up” a child in the way he or she should go. Now, perhaps more than ever, we live in a society that wants to tell your child which way to go. 

Even in the most radical left cities in America, however, it’s still possible to raise kids who understand the truth, Katy Faust says. 

“If you are very intentional about training [your children] from the minute they can talk, your kids are not doomed,” Faust says, “regardless of whether you’re in a red state or a blue state, your kids are homeschooled or [in] private school or public school.”

Faust is co-author of the new book “Raising Conservative Kids in a Woke City: Teaching Historical, Economic, and Biological Truth in a World of Lies.” Also the founder of the pro-child rights organization Them Before Us, she joins “The Daily Signal Podcast” to explain how parents can influence their kids from a young age and raise them with the values they hold dear. 

Listen to the podcast below or read the lightly edited transcript:

Is it time to raise the white flag yet? Parents seem to be losing the social media fight. 

The average tween spent 5½ hours on screens between 2019 to 2021 — an increase of 17% from the prior four years, according to a survey by the nonprofit research organization Common Sense Media. Teens spent 8½ hours on screens, up from 7½ hours, during that time.

And as many parents might suspect when they spot their kid hunkered down on the couch swiping every few seconds, the time spent on devices has ratcheted up since the pandemic.

Apparently, social media — specifically Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok — are to blame for a large portion of this screen time.

The U.S. Surgeon General issued an advisory earlier this year noting that 95% of kids ages 13-17 say they are on social media and more than one-third say they use it almost constantly. 

“The most common question parents ask me is, ‘Is social media safe for my kids,’” U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy wrote in his advisory. “The answer is that we don’t have enough evidence to say it’s safe, and in fact, there is growing evidence that social media use is associated with harm to young people’s mental health.” 

In the midst of an ongoing youth mental health crisis, Murthy, in issuing his advisory, worries that social media is helping fuel the crisis, with kids exposed to violent and sexual content, bullying and harassment while at the same time compromising their sleep and in-person time with friends and family.

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