Nonetheless, the recommendations serve as a great starting place for parents, caregivers, educators, and other critical parties to take action and prompt conversations with their kids.
Primarily, the APA advised that social media use, functionality, and app permissions should be tailored to each child’s developmental capabilities. After all, app functions and designs that were created for adults may not be suitable or appropriate for kids of different ages.
So, when it comes to younger children, the APA recommends that parents monitor social media use while having open conversations about content posted online. However, the report also indicated that balancing this openness against the child’s age-appropriate privacy needs is key.
“Autonomy may increase gradually as kids age and if they gain digital literacy skills,” the report added.
Still, access to any social media content that contains illegal acts or psychologically maladaptive behavior should be minimized. One example might include content that encourages high-risk behaviors, disordered eating, or self-harm.
Online exposure to content that perpetuates cyberbullying, hate, discrimination, or prejudice– especially when targeted toward groups due to race, gender, ethnicity, religion, orientation, or disability status– should also be minimized.
And in the home, parents and caregivers should monitor kids for any indicators of “problematic social media use” that may impact their ability to complete daily routines and habits or heighten the risk for psychological harm in the long term.
On a similar note, social media use should also be limited to ensure it does not interfere with kids’ sleep schedules or physical activity.
Finally, social media use concerning online content that is mostly beauty or appearance-related should be limited as well.
The report does note that there is a lack of publicly available research, making it impossible to conclude whether social media causes harmful outcomes among youth.
So, the APA called for “a substantial investment in research funding,” along with more access to data– including data collected by technology companies.