The American Psychological Association has issued its first advisory on social media use in adolescence. What’s most striking in its data-based recommendations is how little we really know about how these apps affect our kids.
The APA report wisely turns our attention to what we do and don’t know about tween and teens’ relationships with social media — and is a call to action for more research into how powerful technology could be reshaping social development. “It’s time to get the science out,” says Mitch Prinstein, the APA’s chief science officer.
What little evidence we do have unsurprisingly suggests that social media trades on incentives that aren’t great for young brains. Many kids’ first exposure to social media occurs “at the worst possible time when it comes to brain development,” says Prinstein, a psychologist and neuroscientist who studies adolescents’ social interactions at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.