The American Psychological Association released a set of 10 recommendations for teens’ social media use Tuesday, including media literacy training and limiting screen time so it doesn’t interfere with sleep or activity. physical activity.

The guidelines acknowledge that teens will use social media no matter what, so the organization said it aims to offer suggestions for teens and the parents, teachers and tech companies involved in their lives. Other recommendations include: tailoring social media use to youth development capabilities, routinely assessing for «problem social media use,» and limiting how much teens use social media to compare the beauty or appearance of others. people.

«There’s a lot of talk about social media these days, including some suggestions that don’t fit with the science,» said APA chief scientific officer Mitch Prinstein, co-chair of the advisory panel that developed the recommendations. «We are publishing this report now to offer a balanced, science-based perspective on this topic so that all interested parties can make decisions based on our experience regarding the potential benefits and risks associated with social media.»

The experts who made the suggestions come from various areas of psychology, Prinstein said. They analyzed the latest research to determine where the science has reached a consensus on teens and social media, she said.

While some of the experts’ recommendations are practical, such as providing teens with resources on the positives and negatives of social media, others are more vague, such as minimizing teens’ exposure to «cyber hate.»

Prinstein compared teen social media use to driving a car, in that keeping teens safe needs to be a team effort that includes policy making, parental oversight, and company changes. who make the products.

“Social media is here to stay,” Prinstein said. «So we must teach children how to get the best they can and avoid the worst.»

Social networks are here to stay. Therefore, we must teach children how to get the best they can and avoid the worst.

— Mitch Prinstein, co-chair of the advisory panel that developed the recommendations

Concern has grown about what young people consume on social media and how it affects their opinion of themselves. Politicians and lawmakers have put the companies behind social media apps like Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat under increased scrutiny amid reports that some users have struggled with body image issues and suicidal ideation, among other health effects. mental.

Last month, a bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation that would require social media users to be at least 13 years old and require parental consent for users ages 13 to 17.

Legal cases against some social media companies are also making their way through the court system. A class action lawsuitwhich consolidates more than 100 similar cases, alleges that social networks are harmful to younger users and compares their addiction to that of opiates or tobacco.

The new recommendations are aimed at a variety of stakeholders: parents, educators, tech companies, and teens themselves. The hope, Prinstein said, is that the parties collaborate to help young users have positive results when they use social media.

Emma Woodward, a clinical psychologist at the nonprofit Child Mind Institute, said the recommendations are most likely to be helpful to people who interact with teens every day, such as parents and teachers. She suggested turning the individual guidelines into conversation starters with teens.

“Certainly, I think the best way to help kids stay safe online is for it to be a partnership between parents and their children or teens,” said Woodward, who was not involved in creating the recommendations. «That collaboration will likely lead to the greatest success in terms of helping kids use social media safely.»

Woodward said she’s glad the recommendations reflect an understanding that teens will use social media regardless of whether parents, educators or technology platforms intervene. But she said while admirable, some of the guidelines can be difficult to put into practice: how to avoid cyberhate.

«While of course I think it’s very aspirational to avoid cyberhate, I think it’s also something the vast majority of kids and teens who use social media are likely to encounter,» he said.

Prinstein said the guidelines are not meant to vilify social media, but to offer a safer approach.

«It was absolutely important that we accurately reflect the science, and that includes discussing both the benefits and potential warning signs we’re seeing related to social media use,» he said.

In a report accompanying the recommendations, the authors said that social media is «not inherently beneficial or harmful to young people» and that those who use it sparingly and in ways that help cultivate their offline communities are likely to benefit. of the connections made to them. . The recommendations also recognize that young people struggling with mental illnesses, such as social anxiety, may benefit from interacting with others on social media.

However, the authors added that this group could also experience the harms of social media, such as viewing content that promotes disordered eating or self-harm.