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From sleep to body image issues, social media is affecting our kids' mental health | Wear the Gown

It's important for parents to stay active and keep the conversation open with their children.

SAN ANTONIO — Social media and its effects on kids' mental health have been a big discussion point over the last several years. 

Too much social media, and the wrong kind of social media, can affect a child's physical and mental health, according to experts. Which is why parents need to stay on top of what their child is doing online.

"Social media can really get in the way of kids' sleep," said Dr. Ariana Hoet, the clinical director for On Our Sleeves. "Look for changes in the way they view themselves, their body image and their eating patterns."

Hoet says parents should know what their child is looking at to make sure it is safe. 

"We really have to pause, breathe and make it about the child," Hoet added. "Don't bombard them with questions or concerns or advice and just (ask), 'Oh, tell me a little bit about why you've been watching this.'"

A recent survey by The On Our Sleeves Movement For Children's Mental Health interviewed parents with children under the age of 18. It found 50% of those parents saw their child's mental health suffer over the past year because of social media. 

It also found that the number of parents feeling comfortable talking to their kids about mental health dropped five percent over the past year. 

"Taking the time to say, 'Hey, how was your day?' I think that simple question really begins to open the door for your child to believe that you trust the things that are going on in their life, that you can help fix those things," parent Collin Ricks said. "They come to you with their issues, with their challenges, and I think that goes a long way." 

Hoet says all parents need to keep the conversation open. 

"The way we react is going to determine whether a child will keep trusting us and keep coming back to us," she added.  

Check out this link for more information about On Our Sleeves and resources to talk to kids about social media.

For more information about family health call 210-358-3045. You can also find the rest of Wear The Gown stories, just go to WearTheGown.com.

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