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Advice for how to help children with social media addiction

Mobile phones are designed to be addictive. A survey conducted by Common Sense Media found that 50% of teens feel addicted to their phones, and 59% of parents feel their teens are addicted.

Many parents/carers cannot understand how or why the young person they know is addicted and shrug it off as an unimportant issue or something they will grow out of. However, some researchers have found that the withdrawal from a phone can be similar to the withdrawal of nicotine/smoking.

Problematic or addictive phone use has been proven to be associated with psychological distress and emotional regulation problems. Those displaying behaviours associated with phone addiction were linked to ADHD and OCD, with studies showing that excessive screen time can cause feelings of anxiety, low self-esteem, anger, loneliness and depression.

It is important to take phone addiction seriously and make sure that it is not dangerously damaging the mental health of the young people in your life.

We have put together some top tips for how parents/carers can help young people with their social media use.


Our top tips for helping children/young adults with social media addiction:

  • Let children know when and where being on social media is acceptable – make sure to emphasize the times when real-life experiences should/can take priority over being online.

  • Be a good example to your children - if you display unhealthy social media habits your child is likely to copy.

  • Have open and honest conversations with the young people you know or look after about social media and their relationships with it. Ask questions that will help you understand more about how it is impacting their mental health:

    • Why do you use social media?

    • Do you ever see things online that upset or annoy you?

    • Do you think you spend too much time online?

    • Does being on social media make you happy?

  • Keep the lines of communication open, try not to make them feel like they cannot come to you with any issues or upsetting problems.


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