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WATCH: Social media causing ‘an epidemic of sleep problems’ in kids, expert says


This month, Congress has held hearings on the negative effects of Facebook and other social media companies–including young children.

PBS NewsHour’s Nicole Ellis on Oct. 29 spoke with Washington Post technology reporter Heather Kelly and Hartford HealthCare child and adolescent psychiatrist Dr. Paul Weigle to unpack what the potential risks are to children and what parents and other caregivers can do.

Weigle says that children have come to rely on more social media use over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic as they have been home more and not socializing as much in person.

Social media companies have pointed to parental controls as a preventative measure to shield children from the potential harms of the platforms. But experts explain that they are not an infallible solution.

“Over the course of the pandemic we’ve seen a greatly increased reliance on social media to meet the social needs of teens,” said Weigle.

He said that the use of social media is contributor to “an epidemic of sleep problems and depression.”

“Increased reliance on social media is dangerous to the health of young people,” said Weigle. “It’s a terribly negative effect on their sleep and sleep is so important to the physical and mental health of young people.”

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