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Social Media and Your Health

To Infinity and Beyond! Sharing the Exploration of Cyberspace with your Children

Cyberspace, the final frontier...These are the voyages of our Global Population today. While few people will
ever have a chance to travel in a spaceship to discover the universe, most have trekked through cyberspace,
especially the galaxy of Social media.

Kelly Bradford, Wilson Medical Center (WM) Social Worker, recently shared on our WMC Facebook the
impact of social media on our mental health. We found it informative so decided to expand upon how it affects
our young people. McLean Psychiatric Hospital, a Harvard Medical School associate, states that social media
has a reinforcing nature. Using it activates the brain's reward center by releasing dopamine, a "feel-good
chemical" linked to pleasurable activities such as food and social interaction. The platforms are designed to be
addictive and are associated with anxiety, depression, and even physical ailments.

Could we, as parents, become instrumental in redirecting our children from those "feel good" thrills? Can we
guide them to seek good information more than they do entertainment? Yes - by helping our young people
develop their interests and to find other people who share the same interests. Here are a few tips to help you on
this journey:

Set an example. Set time limits for online usage and stick with them. Teach them to respect their own
and others privacy and to know that many people make things look and seem better than they are

Encourage meaningful screen usage to serve a purpose and benefit them throughout life. For example:

Inspire them to research activities or hobbies they would like to do. Instead of just watching videos,
coach them to read.

Teach them social skills by helping them find a safe pen-pal of their age that they can email from an
account you are monitoring. Assist them in learning to ask questions, understand, and communicate with
their pen-pal.

Support them in finding a balance between utilizing screen time yet not relying on it. This habit will
help avoid anxiety and hopelessness that can arise when the internet or computer goes on the fritz.

Establish a nighttime routine where your children give their phones to you until the following day,
with the understanding that you will be reviewing their online activities. Everyone has a different
opinion on this: Many believe safety should be the most crucial consideration. Others think parents
should focus on teaching independence so children learn self-managements. McAfee Online Security
has a few tips:

Up until about 10 years of age, they strongly recommend knowing your kids' passwords

From about 10-14, you either insist on knowing the passwords or ask your kids to place them in a
sealed envelope in a nominated spot. If there is an online issue or problem, you can then access it

From about 14 onwards, maybe see how it goes. If your child is a 'pushing the boundary' type, then
you may choose to go with the envelope approach, but ideally, this be a time to transition teens to a
self-managed approach

From 16-17 onwards, we hope they can manage the password issue for themselves

Ultimately, it is essential that your children be tech-savvy and feel safe and comfortable coming to you
with questions and concerns.

As parents, we know our children better than any expert, so knowing when to draw the line and set the
boundaries using our intuition is essential; don't ignore your gut feeling on this issue. Keep those cyber
conversations flowing and arm your kids with enough cyber know-how to make good digital decisions!

Neodesha Derrick - Medical Moment for Thursday, May 5, 2022