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Developing Healthy Social Media Practices: An Outpatient Caregiver-Adolescent Group Intervention

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Abstract

Adolescents frequently use social media to connect with peers, develop friendships, and explore their identity. However, some adolescents, particularly those with co-occurring mental health concerns or other vulnerabilities, may experience problems or dysfunction related to their social media use. Navigating online social interactions, regulating one’s own use of social media, and being aware of how content of social media may impact users are important skills that youth need to build in today’s digital age. The purpose of this paper is to describe the rationale for, and components of, a group therapy intervention (Developing Healthy Social Media Practices) for caregivers and their adolescents that seeks to (a) provide psychoeducation about the risks and benefits of social media use; (b) teach youth and their caregivers online social problem solving skills; (c) facilitate caregiver-adolescent communication about online social interactions and other online risks; and (d) promote motivation to change social media practices that youth and their caregivers identify as impacting functioning.
Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10879-022-09559-2
example, viewing idealized images, pro-anorexia or pro-
bulimia content, and experiencing negative feedback from
peers about appearance on social media can contribute to
lower self-esteem (Woods & Scott, 2016), greater body dis-
satisfaction (Stronge et al., 2015), and higher self-objecti-
cation (Hanna et al., 2017). Similarly, social media content
that discusses or depicts self-injury may be triggering to
high-risk youth, given its association with suicidal ideation
and history of non-suicidal self-injury (Nesi et al., 2021).
Thus, social media content may dierentially impact youth
depending on their pre-existing mental health concerns or
risk factors.When adolescents use social media (e.g., at or
after bedtime, during mealtime, while completing school-
work) also appears to drive whether outcomes are positive
or negative. For example, recent research suggests that the
link between social media use and depression, poorer well-
being, and other internalizing symptoms could be explained
by disrupted sleep and shorter sleep duration for adolescents
who view social media in the evening (Vernon et al., 2015,
2017). Finally, how adolescents use media (i.e., their moti-
vations for using social media and how they engage with
content) also aects its impact on youth. Adolescents and
young adults who engage in social comparison on social
media (instead of using the platforms to connect with friends
Social media, including social networking sites and applica-
tions, are widely popular among adolescents. The COVID-
19 pandemic has accelerated the use of social media given
that adolescents experienced a marked decrease in face-to-
face social interactions due to school closures and public
health social distancing guidelines. Given the popularity
of social media, research has considered both the positive
and negative aspects of social media engagement. Social
media has been linked to positive outcomes for adolescents,
including relationship formation or maintenance (Lenhart
et al., 2015) and exploration of identity (Uhls et al., 2017).
These positive, or potentially negative, eects depend on
what adolescents view on social media, when they are using
it, and how they are using it .
Determining what adolescents are viewing on social
media is crucial to determining how it will aect them. For
Sarah E. Domo
domof1se@cmich.edu
Aubrey L. Borgen
borge1al@cmich.edu
1 Department of Psychology, Central Michigan University, 101
Sloan Hall Mt. Pleasant, 48859 Michigan, MI, USA
Abstract
Adolescents frequently use social media to connect with peers, develop friendships, and explore their identity. However,
some adolescents, particularly those with co-occurring mental health concerns or other vulnerabilities, may experience
problems or dysfunction related to their social media use. Navigating online social interactions, regulating one’s own use
of social media, and being aware of how content of social media may impact users are important skills that youth need
to build in today’s digital age. The purpose of this paper is to describe the rationale for, and components of, a group
therapy intervention (Developing Healthy Social Media Practices) for caregivers and their adolescents that seeks to (a)
provide psychoeducation about the risks and benets of social media use; (b) teach youth and their caregivers online social
problem solving skills; (c) facilitate caregiver-adolescent communication about online social interactions and other online
risks; and (d) promote motivation to change social media practices that youth and their caregivers identify as impacting
functioning.
Keywords Social media · Body image · Screen time · Smartphone · Problematic media
Accepted: 16 August 2022
© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2022
Developing Healthy Social Media Practices: An Outpatient Caregiver-
Adolescent Group Intervention
Aubrey L.Borgen1· Sarah E.Domo1
1 3
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