With U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy introducing new social media guidelines for children in the past few weeks, social media and mental health is all any parent we know is talking about. Especially with summer here.

So I immediately reached out to one of my favorite past guests — author, columnist, media educator, and expert on kids and technology, Dr. Devorah Heitner.

Keeping kids healthy on social media: Tips from Dr. Devorah Heitner on Spawned parenting podcast

Take a listen for actionable tips, reassurance, and a refreshing lack of fear-mongering — just good advice on what we should and shouldn’t do as parents to help our kids grow up to make the best, healthiest decisions online.

We talk about:
– What’s changed about social media and digital access over the past few years
– How the pandemic affected our rules, boundaries, habits — and how we might regain some control
– The impact of TikTok, Discord, and server-based gaming
– Why secretly looking at your kids’ texts and social accounts could be a big fail
– Tactics for creating tech-free zones and setting limits
– Modeling responsible online behavior
– How to talk about privacy and data sharing
– The problems with kids who are “hate-watching” content
– What constitutes a “healthy” social media environment and how to recognize it.


Listen right now, and make sure you’re a Spawned podcast subscriber so that you never miss an episode.

You can follow Devorah at @devorahheitnerphd on Instagram and subscribe to her Substack here.
Check out her book Screenwise: Helping Kids Thrive (and Survive) in Their Digital World
Preorder her newest book Growing Up in Public: Coming of Age in a Digital World

Related Links:
The Surgeon General’s Advisory about Effects of Social Media on Youth’s Mental Health (hhs.gov)
A primer on the bipartisan Kids Social Media Act bill in the Senate (Wired)
Devorah on her new book, Growing Up in Public (Substack)
The Alexa privacy lawsuits (NPR)
Dr. Devorah Heitner on raising kids to be responsible social media users (Episode 170)
Dr. Seema Yasmin on how to raise media-savvy kids and BS proof their brains (Episode 282)
Jordan Shapiro on why raising completely unplugged kids may be a terrible idea (Episode 146)

Further Reading and Resources Recommended by Devorah:
Jacqueline Nessi’s Technosapiens Substack
Behind Their Screens: What Teens are Facing (And Adults are Missing) by Emily Weinstein and Carrie James
Justin Patchin’s Cyberbullying Research Center
Common Sense Media’s social media guidance
Media Smarts: Canada’s Centre for Digital and Media Literacy

Growing up in Public: The helpful new book from Devorah Heitner on navigating social media with kidsGrowing Up in Public: Coming of Age in a Digital World coming Sept, 2023

Cool Picks of the Week:

Devorah: Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin, a novel she especially recommends for GenX parents who will love all the old school tech references (floppy discs, what?)

Liz: The Retro Lover’s Guide to Road-Tripping is a must-read article on AtlasObscura.comif you love Americana, pop culture, history, kitsch, and travel.


Top photo: Andrej Lišakov via Unsplash + License; image posed by models

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