Keeping Kids Safe: Local expert warns of signs that social media is affecting kids’ mental health

Keeping Kids Safe

(WYTV) — Recently, a report from the Wall Street Journal suggested Facebook knows the damage Instagram does to teens’ mental health — especially girls.

Akron Children’s Hospital expert Jessica Castonguay talked about how social media affects body image and signs parents should be looking for.

“In real life, kids are glued to their phones, they’re very interested in what’s going on with other people and they compare what they’re seeing on the screen to their own life,” Castonguay said.

Castonguay is the medical director of the eating disorder program at Akron Children’s Mahoning Valley campus. She said when what teens see on the screen doesn’t match their daily life, those complicated emotions can take over.

“Either I’m not the right shape, or I’m not the right size or my house isn’t right or my car isn’t right and it really leads to a lot of anxiety and depression and fear of not fitting in or finding friends who are like you,” Castonguay said.

According to reports, Facebook’s own internal research revealed Instagram can harm the mental health of millions of young users — and the company has known about it for years.

“It’s hard to break the habit. It’s hard to break away and these kids are fearful that they’re missing out on things in life when they don’t have their phone, when in reality they are missing out on life in general,” Castonguay said.

Some big red flags parents can look out for include a change in the child’s mood, eating habits and even their ability to sleep.

“It’s just super important not to compare yourself to what you see on that screen because if you really think about what you post it’s only the best parts of your day, so you’re only seeing the good, you’re not seeing the real,” Castonguay said.

Akron Children’s behavioral health department offers outpatient treatment for kids and teens dealing with depression and anxiety.

Castonguay said the goal is not to have kids completely disconnect but understand how deceiving social media can be.

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Mel Robbins Main Area Middle

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