"If you're going to allow social media use, it's important to set limits on what that usage is going to be," said Dr. Anthony Smith, a licensed psychologist and direct of Alase Center for Enrichment in Durham. "I recommend to my parents when I am talking to them, if they are going to do it (social media) during the week, an hour of screen time at the most. A couple of hours on the weekend. There's other things we ought to be engaging in."
Dr. Smith suggests activities like sports, exercise and creative arts to stimulate the mind.
Antonio Jones from Durham opened up to me about how he limits his son's screen time.
"My 7-year-old does not have a social media account," said Jones.
Jones says he allows his son to watch YouTube, and an occasional TikTok video with restrictions.
"Monday through Friday he does not have access to tablets or technology unless it's school use," Jones said.
Psychologists in the Triangle say that's exactly the kind of limits parents should consider.
Tuesday, a whistleblower from Facebook testified on Capitol Hill-blasting the social media giant-sharing claims it knowingly manipulates harmful content to young users that is harmful.
The state attorney general Josh Stein echoed those concerns, along with 52 other AGs.
"We're learning more about how Facebook and other social media platforms are harmful to our children - including worsening mental health issues and leading to depression, bullying, and eating disorders - but we still don't know enough," Stein said.
Dr. Samantha Pflum is a child clinical psychologist at UNC.
She says it's important for young people to be self-aware of how they feel when using social media, and then advocate for themselves and use it in a way that makes them feel comfortable and safe.
"There can be so much pressure to present this perfect or specific image of themselves to other people and they often fear missing out in these social and cultural references that I should be aware of," said Dr. Pflum. "Will I miss the social interaction with my friends if I decrease the time I'm spending on social media so they often feel torn or stuck which direction should I go in?"
Psychologists say warning signs parents should look out for include:
- Losing focus
- Lack of self worth
- Thoughts of suicide and harming others