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The overwhelming majority, if not all the middle school girls I see in my office are on social media. A large percentage of the boys are as well, but not to the same degree. I find it interesting that I rarely have parents express any concerns about it. I get the sense that most parents have surrendered to the reality of social media use in kids as the normal in our current culture.

As a Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist, the three most common things I see in practice are anxiety/stress, depression, and problems focusing.  It is abundantly clear to me that these three clinical issues are all made worse by excessive use of social media. Middle school brains are not mature enough to manage a social media account.

Social media is extremely distracting. It is intentionally designed that way. The frontal cortex of middle school kids’ brains is still a huge work in progress, and not even close to being fully developed. It is hard enough for an adult to not get distracted, despite having a fully developed frontal cortex (many wives are not so sure about their husbands). Middle school kids are not biologically capable to manage social media without it worsening their ability to focus. It is not that all of a sudden they develop ADHD. If you are concerned about your son or daughter’s ability to focus, get them off social media. Their social life will not end. It will just take more work for them to be social, such as face-to-face interaction. It will also take more work for you for them to be social, but that is not a reason to just do what everyone else does. The benefit of social medial use in middle school kids does not outweigh the negative risks. The negative risks are much higher than the potential benefits.

My strong professional recommendation is that middle school kids should not be on social media.