Teenagers’ excessive use of social media has become a concerning issue, comparable to drug addiction, according to experts. During a panel discussion on safety and digital well-being organized by TikTok, Hanan Ezzeldin, the founder and CEO of The Family Hub, highlighted the negative impact of social media on teenagers’ sleep patterns. She stated that teenagers spend an average of 6 to 12 hours daily on social media outside of school hours, leading to a lack of sufficient sleep, which is crucial for their well-being. Ezzeldin also noted that many teenagers sleep with their phones and frequently wake up during the night to check notifications, messages, and the number of likes on their posts. This behavior, she argued, has turned into an addiction.
Ezzeldin emphasized the need for parents to take action by setting limits on their children’s online time and finding alternative activities for them. She stressed the importance of engaging with children and teenagers, with parents acting as role models. As parents, it is crucial to be mindful of our own social media use and to have open conversations about the potential pitfalls of online platforms. Ezzeldin advised parents to co-view content with their children, especially cartoons and songs, and discuss them together. However, she cautioned against using devices during mealtime.
Regarding the role of schools, Ezzeldin noted that they are increasingly incorporating digital components into their curriculum, leading to children spending around 5 to 6 hours on digital platforms each day. She suggested that schools should educate children on online safety, raise awareness about bullying, and involve the community by sharing videos of community services. Ezzeldin called for a comprehensive curriculum that includes social media safety and character building to address the broader aspects of education beyond just academic subjects. She likened leaving children unattended on the internet to leaving them alone in malls, emphasizing the importance of parental guidance and support in the online world.
Kevin Morgan, the head of trust and safety at TikTok Europe, Middle East & Africa, also emphasized the need for content classification based on different age groups to ensure the safety and digital well-being of teenagers.