May 17, 2023

Is Social Media taking a toll on your child's mental health?

Cost of Beauty: A Dove Film | Dove Self-Esteem Project
The powerful film, “ Cost of Beauty: A Dove Film,” portrays the real story of Mary, a young person whose mental health has been impacted by social media. (3 minutes)
***Trigger warning: this content may be inappropriate for some viewers.

At least 40 school districts across 10 states are suing social media companies including Facebook, Snapchat and TikTok, Google and YouTube, claiming thesecompanies are contributing to a youth mental health crisis and should be held accountable. 

Schools are seeking damages for the larger mental health teams they now say they need in order to prevent and treat for excessive and problematic use of social media, whose products are designed to hook its users and keep them using the products as long and often as possible, 

Some suits allege that social media is responsible for increased incidences of eating disorders, anxiety and depression among students. Instagram, owned by Meta (formally Facebook), was previously criticized for promoting self-harm content and eating disorders, using algorithms to push content to millions of its users, and putting profit over child safety. 

"Our brains, our bodies, and our society have been evolving together to shape human development for millennia. ... Within the last twenty years, the advent of portable technology and social media platforms is changing ... We are just beginning to understand how this may impact youth development."
--Mitch Prinstein, Chief Science Officer 
U.S. Senate Committee on Judiciary Testimony, February 14, 2023

A February CDC study showed:

  • 57% of girls (the highest rate in a decade) and 29% of boys feel persistently sad or hopeless, 

  • 30% of teen girls have seriously considered suicide. 

Worrying trends were reported prior to the pandemic; Between 2009 and 2019, depression rates doubled for all teens. 

As adolescent mental health remains in crisis, it's critical parents:

  • monitor social media use and engage in continuous conversations about online experiences. 

  • limit screen time and utilize parental control tools to alert you to any concerning content your child may be accessing or expressing. 

  • seek outside help for your child should you notice a concerning change in your child's behavior.

Visit our Prevention 101 section for safety information and resources.

If your child is struggling with thoughts of suicide or worried about a friend or loved one, call the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 for free, confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


Bark's 2022 annual report of statistics and trends that focused on online activities of children ages 10 to 17. Throughout 2022, Bark analyzed more than 4.5 billion online activities from teens and tweens across the U.S.:

  • 35.7% of tweens and 64.3% of teens were involved in a self-harm/suicidal situation.

  • 4.4% of tweens and 15.1% of teens engaged with or encountered content about disordered eating.

  • 19.3% of tweens and 41.2% of teens used language or were exposed to language about anxiety.

  • 71.2% of tweens and 83.3% of teens experienced bullying as a bully, victim, or witness.

  • 23.6% of tweens and 44.1% of teens engaged in conversations about depression.

  • 75.0% of tweens and 88.2% of teens expressed or experienced violent subject matter/thoughts.

To view additional internet safety statistics, visit our Statistics section.

Please remember to share this information with your family and friends