Sam’s Project. You Can Help Keep Kids Safe!

Hello All! My name is Samantha Shields.

I’d like to discuss the risks of social media use and what can be done to reduce those risks. 

Social media use has continued to increase with every consecutive year. More children and adolescents are using social media. Children are beginning use at shockingly young ages. A 2015 study found that 96.6% of 0- to 4-year-olds use mobile devices and 75% have their own (Reid Chassiakos et al., 2016). 

Has our healthcare system kept up with the increase in media use amongst the pediatric population? Are we balancing the increased risk that comes with increased use? Are we providing more, if any, anticipatory guidance on the topic to our children, our adolescents, and their caregivers? Children and adolescents are two of the more vulnerable populations. Health care providers who work with them need to be aware of the risks that come along with media use so they can help prevent negative outcomes. 

The internet can allow for connection and communication. However, it can also lead to behavioral problems, sleep irregularities, cyberbullying, anxiety, depression, addiction, poor body image, sight problems, headaches, dental caries, physical inactivity, exposure to unhealthy foods, online grooming, privacy issues, exposure to inappropriate pornography, sexting, violence, and substance abuse (Bozzala, et al., 2022). 

Pediatricians and providers alike should strive for safe social media use amongst their patients. They should put an effort into ensuring children, adolescents, and their caregivers develop a safe and positive relationship with social media. They should perform surveillance to learn more about how their patients are using social media. They should assess what their patients know about the risks of social media and what they know about using it safely. Providers should be offering anticipatory guidance on the topic. Social media is not going to disappear. In fact, it may continue to grow. As health care professionals, we should learn to grow with it. 

We are performing a survey to assess what is currently being done to keep our children and adolescents safe. We also would like to learn about more methods that could help. 

Are you a health care professional who works with children and adolescents in a primary care setting? How, if at all, do you perform social media surveillance? How, if at all, do you provide anticipatory guidance on the topic? Do you have ideas on methods to improve the way we care for our children and adolescents related to this topic? 

Are you employed in a different setting that allows you the opportunity to work with children and adolescents (i.e. teachers, therapists, etc.)? How, if at all, do you educate these children and adolescents on safe social media use? Do you have ideas on methods to improve the way we care for our children and adolescents related to this topic?

Kindly respond to this blog post by completing this survey for us. 

We look forward to hearing about what is currently being done in the community. Our goal is to keep our children and adolescents safe and to teach them methods to keep themselves safe.  

Thank you so much for your time! 

Samantha Shields 

BSN, RN, CPN, DNP Candidate 
University of Pittsburgh 
School of Nursing 


Bozzola, E., Spina, G., Agostiniani, R., Barni, S., Russo, R., Scarpato, E., Di Mauro, A., Di Stefano, A. V., Caruso, C., Corsello, G., & Staiano, A. (2022). The use of social media in children and adolescents: Scoping review on the potential risks. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(16), 9960.
Reid Chassiakos, Y. (Linda), Radesky, J., Christakis, D., Moreno, M. A., Cross, C., Hill, D., Ameenuddin, N., Hutchinson, J., Levine, A., Boyd, R., Mendelson, R., & Swanson, W. S. (2016). Children and adolescents and Digital Media. Pediatrics, 138(5).