If you feel like you’re never well-rested, you may want to reconsider your social media habits, says Abraham Bartell, MD, Director of Pediatric Psychiatry at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, a member of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth).
“One-third of all social media users have dysfunctional sleep resulting from inappropriate use of social media. Texting and using social media right before sleep gets your brain fired back up, disrupting normal sleep patterns,” explains Dr. Bartell. And texting before bedtime is even worse for teens, who are already fighting an uphill battle, trying to squeeze in 10 hours of sleep when their bodies are naturally synched to fall asleep between midnight and 2 a.m. To help the whole family get a better night’s sleep, Dr. Bartell advises: “Getting phones out of the bedroom is key; there are dings and pings all night long that disrupt sleep and can be too much of a temptation to ignore. Put phone chargers in the kitchen or the den.”
Beyond dysfunctional sleep, social media can exacerbate a host of other problems for teens. “Anxiety is an issue, especially among kids and teens who use social media; FOMO, or Fear Of Missing Out, is often at the core of this anxiety,” Bartell explains. Seeing pictures of friends having fun without you may leave you feeling lonely, alienated and anxious. According to Dr. Bartell, moderation is key. “No one in the mental- health profession recommends eliminating all forms of social media. But do limit total number of hours spent on social media, and make sure your kids are connecting with friends in person.”