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Teen talk: phones and social media

It seems like everyone is texting and on social media. Even your parents. So when are you old enough to have your own phone and social media accounts? Dr. Justin Smith knows the benefits of cell phones and social media. He uses them often to connect with patients or share important health information. He also knows they come with risks, especially for young people. Here, he shares tips to help you know if you're ready for a cell phone and social media responsibilities while staying safe and connected to your to friends and family.

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Hi, I'm Dr. Justin Smith with Cook Children's in Trophy Club. Today, I'm going to answer a question that many teens have, when should I be allowed to have a cell phone and get on social media?

I want to start off by saying that anything I say is out of concern for you, I want to make sure that you're safe, and that you're not doing anything that could put yourself at harm. And social media does come with some risk. You may come across content that's scary, you may come across content that puts you in a place where you don't need to be with your emotions. And so I want to make sure that you're protected. And so I, first off whenever it does come time for you to be involved in social media, I want you to have someone that you feel comfortable going to if you see something that bothers you.

So there are a few big risks I see when you guys are involved in social media. The first one is bullying. It's not uncommon for you guys to post something and then have a bunch of other friends or even people who aren't friends come and make negative comments about what you've posted. That can be overwhelming. And so if you start to see that, be sure reach out to a trusted friend or an adult who can help you work through that. And can help you come to terms with how you're feeling about what people are saying online.

Another big risk is the fear of missing out. You may see that your friends are out doing things, maybe you haven't been invited, or maybe you had other things going on. And you may feel like you're always missing out on the best part of life. Keep in mind that you have great things going on in your life as well. And that they're only posting the best parts of their life. They're not posting the day-in day-out that we all go through every day, that isn't the most exciting things about life. And I also want you to remember that it's important to take a break. You can't be on social media all the time. And so when you do get an account, be sure that you're taking time away to let yourself recharge and get back to where you feel safe to be there again. And if at any point you feel like it's not worth the risk, it's okay to close the accounts and to find other activities that bring you joy.

Thank you guys so much. Again, I'm Dr. Justin Smith at Cook Children's in Trophy Club. If you have more questions or would like more information about these topics or others, you can find more at Cook Children's dot org.