Social Media and Teens (Trends and Tips for Parents)

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Richard Capriola joins the podcast again. He was previously on episode 60 talking about teens and substance abuse.

Today he talks about the trends of social media on our youth and tips for parents. Below is an overview of our conversation. For the complete interview, click below or search for Grace for Single Parents wherever you listen to podcasts.

Overview of social media platforms that are popular with teens and how they’re using them today

Facebook: 5 million teenagers

Instagram: 76% of American teens are on Instagram

TikTok: over 80 million users in the United States, teens, and adults. 60% of them are teens. Source.

Snapchat: 75% of teens use Snapchat. Source.

What are teens doing on social media platforms?

Watching and making videos. Lip syncing to songs. Comedy videos. But there is also a lot of explicit language and semi to full nudity.

Facebook Research Project – Overview

Can you tell us a little bit about the Facebook research project they did on social teen media?

Teens acknowledge that apps are addictive and teens express wanting to spend less time on them. But even though the teenagers would admit that they spend too much time and that they feel that these apps are really addictive, they also admit that they don’t have enough self-control to change their scrolling behaviors.

60% of girls and 40% of boys experience some type of negative social comparison on these apps, they’re comparing themselves to other people, other kids, and walking away with a negative view of themselves.

37% of teen girls said that they felt pressured to look perfect in their posts, maybe because they see other posts and other girls, and they compare themselves to them and they don’t think they look as attractive or as good.

Over 30% of the girls say that the content they’re looking at makes them feel worse about themselves.

Related: How Single Dads Can Connect With Their Teenage Daughters

50% of users on Facebook said felt unattractive and that those feelings began on Instagram.

14% of boys said Instagram made them feel worse about themselves.

So for teenagers who are already struggling with some type of mental health challenge, social media may make those feelings intensify and make them feel worse.

Parents Setting an Example

Richard talks about parents setting an example. We have to get control over our phone usage before we can expect our kids to.

We spend an awful lot of time as a society tied to social media apps and children pay attention to what their parents are doing. So if we’re sitting at the dining room table or the kitchen table during mealtime, and we’re glued to our phones, don’t be surprised if your kids are doing the same thing.

What is an appropriate age for a teenager to begin using social media?

According to the experts, age 13 or 14 seemed to be the earliest age that you would want to allow your child to begin using these apps. The one exception was Snapchat, where they recommended age16.

As a parent, you have to make that decision for yourself based on your observation, your perception of your child’s maturity, their level of responsibility, and the behaviors you know.

Related: How to Have a Tech-free Vacation with Kids

The Mayo clinic’s recommendations for teens on social media


1. Set reasonable limits. Talk to your children about how to avoid social media interfering with activities.

2. Keeping cell phones and tablets out of the teenager’s bedrooms.

3. Monitoring phone usage and turning it off if necessary at certain times by using parental controls.

4. Monitor your child’s accounts and let them know you are monitoring them and do regular checks.

Talking about social media with your kids

Encourage your children to continue with face to face contact with their friends, especially teenagers who are vulnerable to social anxiety

Encouraging them not to isolate themselves.

Discuss social media habits, ask how are they using social media, and how does it make them feel?

Parents should become familiar with what their children are using these applications for. Ask them before they even get into an application, how do you plan to use it? What are you going to use it for? What do you need to be on this for? What do you plan to post? Are you gonna post videos? Are you gonna post pictures? What do you intend to do with this application?

Related: Help Me Parent My Teenager!

How the pandemic changed the use of social media

An increase in the use of social media as teenagers and adults tried to connect with the world and with their friends and with their associates.

Now that we’re moving past the pandemic and kids are back in school and back into their social environments it can be a real challenge now for parents to come back and say, “okay, the environment’s a little bit different. Now we need to be mindful of the amount of time that we’re spending.”

Social media usage has affected our attention span.

Where Parents Can start

Be more curious about the things that are being done or shone on social media.

Maybe download the app Snapchat, or TikTok, and just scroll through them and become familiar with what they’re seeing now.

More About Richard

Listen to Episode 60 of Grace for Single Parents when Richard lent his expertise about teens and substance abuse here.

Richard’s Website:

Teens and Substance Abuse Book:

Social Media and Teens (Trends and Tips for Parents)