Health Advisory on Social Media Use in Adolescence

Publication Date: May 9, 2023

Summary of Recommendations

Youth using social media should be encouraged to use functions that create opportunities for social support, online companionship, and emotional intimacy that can promote healthy socialization.

Social media use, functionality, and permissions/consenting should be tailored to youths’ developmental capabilities; designs created for adults may not be appropriate for children.

In early adolescence (i.e., typically 10-14 years), adult monitoring (i.e., ongoing review, discussion, and coaching around social media content) is advised for most youths’ social media use; autonomy may increase gradually as kids age and if they gain digital literacy skills. However, monitoring should be balanced with youths’ appropriate needs for privacy.

To reduce the risks of psychological harm, adolescents’ exposure to content on social media that depicts illegal or psychologically maladaptive behavior, including content that instructs or encourages youth to engage in health-risk behaviors, such as self-harm (e.g., cutting, suicide), harm to others, or those that encourage eatingdisordered behavior (e.g., restrictive eating, purging, excessive exercise) should be minimized, reported, and removed23; moreover, technology should not drive users to this content.

To minimize psychological harm, adolescents’ exposure to “cyberhate” including online discrimination, prejudice, hate, or cyberbullying especially directed toward a marginalized group (e.g., racial, ethnic, gender, sexual, religious, ability status),22 or toward an individual because of their identity or allyship with a marginalized group should be minimized.

Adolescents should be routinely screened for signs of “problematic social media use” that can impair their ability to engage in daily roles and routines, and may present risk for more serious psychological harms over time.

The use of social media should be limited so as to not interfere with adolescents’ sleep and physical activity.

Adolescents should limit use of social media for social comparison, particularly around beauty- or appearancerelated content.

Adolescents’ social media use should be preceded by training in social media literacy to ensure that users have developed psychologically-informed competencies and skills that will maximize the chances for balanced, safe, and meaningful social media use.

Substantial resources should be provided for continued scientific examination of the positive and negative effects of social media on adolescent development.

Recommendation Grading


The information in this patient summary should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Contact a health care provider if you have questions about your health.



Health Advisory on Social Media Use in Adolescence

Authoring Organizations

Publication Month/Year

May 9, 2023

Supplemental Implementation Tools

Document Type


Country of Publication


Document Objectives

Psychological scientists examine potential beneficial and harmful effects of social media use on adolescents’ social, educational, psychological, and neurological development. This is a rapidly evolving and growing area of research with implications for many stakeholders (e.g., youth, parents, caregivers, educators, policymakers, practitioners, and members of the tech industry) who share responsibility to ensure adolescents’ well-being.

Target Patient Population

Adolescents who are using or who may use social media

Target Provider Population

All allied providers and caregivers caring for adolescents

Inclusion Criteria

Male, Female, Adolescent

Health Care Settings

Ambulatory, Childcare center, School

Intended Users

Counselor, nurse, nurse practitioner, physician, physician assistant, psychologist


Counseling, Management, Prevention

Diseases/Conditions (MeSH)

D061108 - Social Media


social media