Taking Care of You

Welcoming a new baby into the home can be an exciting time that is probably filled with novel experiences, but it can also be a time that is filled with challenges, like adjusting to a new schedule and a parenting lifestyle. As you embark on your new parenting journey, remember to allow yourself time to restore and maintain your physical energy and replenish your mental and emotional resources by engaging in self-care strategies, such as eating healthy foods, exercising regularly, and thinking positively. The following video illustrates how incorporating self-care strategies into your daily life can improve your overall well-being and your ability to effectively care for your baby. Engaging in self-care strategies can also offer you opportunities to bond with your baby, connect with friends, or sustain a hobby or skill.

To learn more, watch the Taking Care of You mini-booster module video, below, that was developed by Thrive!

The universal Thrive parent-education programs (i.e., Take Root, Sprout, Grow, and Branch Out), supplemental modules, and mini-booster video modules are available at no cost to parents and caregivers at https://thrive.psu.edu.

Planning and Preparing Meals with Your Preschooler

Cooking with your preschooler can be a healthy, educational, and fun activity. Involving your child in cooking and other aspects of meal preparation helps them learn about food and nutrition and many life skills, like basic math skills and decision-making. You may be hesitant to bring your child into the kitchen due to some potential hazards; however, as a parent, you can determine what aspects of meal preparation your child is ready to manage under your supervision. When deciding what meal preparation tasks your child can safely complete, consider their developmental level, general abilities, and attention span. By providing age-appropriate tasks, using safe kitchen equipment, and throwing in a pinch of patience, you and your child can transform mealtimes into a joyful and memorable experience.

The benefits of preparing meals with your child:

  • Engages the senses. Cooking can be a sensical experience beyond tasting the completed dish. Your child can feel the variety of textures among the vegetables and herbs used in the meal. They can smell the food aroma spread throughout the house. They can hear the food sizzling in the skillet and see the food transform from separate raw ingredients into a delectable meal.
  • Builds early math skills. While helping you cook, your child can count the number of items needed for a recipe, identify the steps to complete the process, and get early exposure to measurements and fractions.
  • Exposes your child to family culture and traditions. Food is traditionally ingrained in a community’s culture and heritage. Many families tend to pass recipes down through generations to celebrate their heritage and continue traditions. Inviting your child into the kitchen gives them an opportunity to spend time bonding with their parents and other family members while learning about and maintaining family traditions.
  • Empowers your child’s voice and choice. Young children are eager to feel in control. When you encourage them to select ingredients or recipes for mealtimes, you can help them build their self-esteem, increase their sense of responsibility, and develop their confidence.
  • Encourages your child to explore a variety of foods, flavors, and textures. Meal preparation ensures that your kid has time to explore the foods and ingredients in their own way. You can discuss the differences among the ingredients and even sample a few items to help your child develop a positive perception of the food.
  • Increases your child’s likelihood of trying new foods. Cooking with parents can make food fun for children. Your child may be more willing to try foods from different food groups when they have helped prepare them.
  • Engages your child’s creativity. Having your child help in the kitchen may give them an opportunity to tap into their artistic side. They may make funny shapes and characters with the ingredients or “paint” oil on the dinner rolls. Additionally, cooking may encourage your child to suggest a new and delicious mix of flavors.
  • Teaches them food safety, cooking tricks, and hand hygiene. When your child cooks with you, they can learn important strategies about keeping raw foods separate from cooked foods, cleaning produce before cooking them, and continuing to wash their hands throughout the process to ensure food is safely prepared and served.
  • Offers a sense of accomplishment and can boost your child’s confidence. When your child sees the completed dish in front of them, they can gain a sense of pride that they contributed to the meal in some way. Cooking allows them the opportunity to smile and say, “I did that!” and share that excitement with the rest of the family.

Safe ways your preschooler can assist with meal preparation:

  • Select a new fruit or vegetable from the market to try at mealtime.
  • Pick fresh herbs and vegetables from the garden or market.
  • Help you grow your own produce in an outside or inside garden.
  • Help you “read” a cookbook by turning the page.
  • Wash and dry produce.
  • Rinse canned beans.
  • Pour ingredients into a measuring cup or spoon at your direction.
  • Mix wet ingredients, dry ingredients, or batters.
  • Sift dry ingredients.
  • Add ingredients to recipes.
  • Stuff ingredients into dough, bread bowls, or cored vegetables.
  • Squeeze fruits (e.g., lemons, limes, oranges).
  • Crumble and sprinkle cheese on top of baked dishes and salads.
  • Brush butter or oil onto veggies or bread.
  • Tear lettuce and toss salads.
  • Add toppings to pizzas.
  • Dip foods and set them on a platter.
  • Mash potatoes with a potato masher.
  • Beat egg yolks for scrambled eggs.
  • Roll, knead, and shape dough.
  • Cut dough with a cookie cutter.
  • Place cookies on a cookie sheet.
  • Spread icing over baked goods.
  • Set the timer.
  • Add dirty pans and unbreakable dishes to the sink or dishwasher.
  • Wipe the countertop clean.
  • Fill cups with ice and/or a beverage.
  • Help set the dishes and utensils on the table.
  • Remove unbreakable dishes and utensils from the dinner table.
  • Help clean the unbreakable dishes and silverware by rinsing them.

Additional Resources

For ideas on how to make cooking with your child engaging and fun, including child-friendly recipes, try the following resources:

Download the Cooking to Thrive resource at https://thrive.psu.edu/resources/cooking-to-thrive/ to learn about healthy eating habits and recipes you can try with your family.

Find tips and resources to help your child develop healthy eating habits with MyPlate at https://www.myplate.gov/life-stages/preschoolers.

The USDA Kids in the Kitchen website at https://www.nutrition.gov/topics/nutrition-life-stage/children/kids-kitchen hosts a directory for recipes and resources on food safety and resources for families like yours.


Fernando, N. (2020, November 17). 5 great reasons to cook with your kids. Healthychildren.org. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/nutrition/Pages/Cooking-With-Your-Children.aspx#:~:text=Teach%20kids%20the%20importance%20of,safe%20and%20age%2Dappropriate%20tasks.

Garden-Robinson, J., & Smith, T. (2021, August). Now you’re cookin’: Meals with help from kids! North Dakota State University Extension. https://www.ndsu.edu/agriculture/extension/publications/now-youre-cookin-meals-help-kids

Gavin, M. L. (2021, November). Cooking with preschoolers. Nemours KidsHealth. https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/cooking-preschool.html

Healthychildren.org. (2018, April 26). 10 tips for parents of picky eaters.https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/toddler/nutrition/Pages/Picky-Eaters.aspx

Malan, C., Bevan, S., & Savoie-Roskos, M. R. (2022, September). The benefits of including kids in the kitchen.Utah State University Extension. https://extension.usu.edu/healthwellness/research/benefits-of-including-kids-in-the-kitchen

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. (n.d.). Chefs in training: Getting children involved in the kitchen.https://healthyeating.nhlbi.nih.gov/chefTraining.aspx?linkId=3

University of Illinois Extension. (n.d.). Cooking with children.https://extension.illinois.edu/sites/default/files/cooking_with_children.pdf

National Teen Driver Safety Week October 15-21, 2023

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022). Teen drivers speed, make mistakes, and can be easily distracted, especially if they have friends in the car. Parents can play an important role in helping their teens develop into safe and responsible drivers. In addition to providing supervised driving practice, parents and their teen drivers should have conversations about driving safety.

So, what safety issues should parents talk about with their teens? In honor of National Teen Driver Safety Week, this blog contains some important conversation topics and provides suggestions for how parents can encourage safe-driving practices.

Teen Driver Crash Statistics (CDC, 2022)

  • Crash risk is highest in the first year a teen has their license.
  • Fatal crashes are more likely to occur at night.
  • In 2021, 51% of the teen passenger vehicle drivers who died in crashes were not wearing their seatbelts.
  • The likelihood of teen drivers engaging in risky behavior triples when they travel with multiple passengers.
  • In 2021, almost one-third (32%) of all teen drivers of passenger vehicles involved in fatal crashes were speeding at the time of the crash.
  • In 2021, 19% of teen passenger vehicle drivers involved in fatal crashes had alcohol in their system.

Talk about Safe Driving with Your Teen

Talking to your teens about safe driving early and often, even before they reach driving age, can help to prevent their chances of being in an accident and could potentially save their lives. You may choose to start the conversation during National Teen Driver Safety Week, but you should consider continuing the conversation regularly (e.g., weekly) throughout the year. Your teen is listening, and your constant reminders about driving risks—and your clear expectations—will get through and make a difference.

Seat belts

Wearing a seat belt in a vehicle is one of the simplest ways for everyone to remain safe. Buckling up is the law, and fastening a seat belt is also one of the easiest and most effective actions an individual can take to reduce their chances of injury or death if they are involved in a car accident. Help your teen understand why seat belts are important and that they must be worn by everyone in the vehicle and on every trip. Make them aware of the consequences of not buckling up, such as getting tickets, losing driving privileges, or sustaining injury, or even death, in the event of a crash. It only takes a few seconds to buckle up, but this small action could save a life.


Your teen’s risk of having a fatal car crash increases with each number of passengers in the vehicle. Passengers can distract an inexperienced teen driver who should be focused on the road and the cars and pedestrians around them. Many states have laws that restrict the number of passengers who can ride in a car that is driven by a teen. Even if the state you live in does not have passenger restrictions, establish rules with your teen about who can ride with them and how many people they can have in their car at one time.


Distracted driving can be deadly. Remind your teen about the dangers of texting, dialing, or using mobile apps while driving. Require your teen to put their phone away and to turn on the “Do Not Disturb” or similar phone features when they are driving. Distracted driving isn’t limited to phone use—other passengers; vehicle, audio, and climate controls; eating; and drinking while driving are all sources of potential dangerous distractions.


Speeding is a safety issue for all drivers, and it can be especially dangerous for a teenage driver who lacks the experience to react to hazards or changing circumstances around their vehicle. Teens who are monitored closely tend to speed less. Set the expectation that your teen will obey the speed limit. They should be particularly aware of their speed during inclement weather (e.g., rain, snow, leaves falling). During these situations, they may need to reduce their speed in order to handle traffic stops or winding roads. Remind your teen to maintain enough space behind the vehicle in front of them to avoid a crash in case of a sudden stop.

Driving While Under the Influence

Consuming alcohol before the age of 21 is illegal, and alcohol and/or marijuana or other substance use and driving never mix—no matter your age. In fact, driving under the influence of any impairing substance, including illicit, prescription, or over-the-counter drugs, could be fatal. It is critical that teen drivers understand that driving impaired can also have legal consequences. They could face strict penalties, fines, or jail time, and they could lose their license if they are caught driving while impaired. Further, remind them that they will face additional consequences at home for breaking the rules they agreed to follow when they started driving.

Set Safe Driving Ground Rules

When your teen begins driving, establish expectations or rules that address common safety risks. Rules for your teen driver may include the following details:

  • Do not drive impaired.
  • Always wear a seat belt, and make sure your passengers do too.
  • Keep your eyes on the road, both hands on the steering wheel, and your mind on the task of driving.
  • Follow the posted speed limit.
  • Limit the number of passengers in your car.

You may want to make your rules more specific by stating what your teen will not do while driving (e.g., consume alcohol, text, dial or scroll on their phone, eat, drive at night) and you should outline the consequences for breaking the rules, such as a loss of driving privileges. You may also choose to create a parent-teen contract for safe driving and display your contract by the family car keys or near the front door.

Model Safe Driving

Model safe-driving behavior for your children by following good habits, such as using the turn signals or looking left-right-left before pulling out at an intersection, any time you drive them anywhere, even before they begin to drive. Make sure you refrain from grabbing for your cell phone, and buckle your seat belt before starting your car. Obey the speed limit, and keep your eyes on the road. Be consistent with the messages you tell your teen and your own driving behaviors.

Driving is a privilege. If your teen has difficulty following the rules, you may need to suspend their driving privileges and discuss your safety concerns. Safe teen drivers
can mean the difference between life and death—for themselves, their passengers, and others on the road.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, November 22). Eight danger zones. https://www.cdc.gov/parentsarethekey/danger/index.html

Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness at Penn State. (n.d.). Branch out. Thrive modules [Computer-based module]. https://thrive.psu.edu/universal-parenting-programs/branch-out/

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (n.d.). Teen driving. https://www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/teen-driving

Establishing Routines with your Preschool-Age Child

By establishing daily routines, you can help your preschool-age child develop and maintain a sense of safety and security. The following video illustrates and explains the importance of routines, like morning routines, mealtime routines, and bedtime routines. The routines you develop can be unique, so they can meet your family’s needs! You can also learn how to use a strategy, like a visual chart, to help you support routines during transitions your family may encounter. In addition, you can learn how to adapt daily routines as your family faces new situations.

To learn more, watch the Establishing Routines with your Preschool-Age Child mini-booster module video, below, that was developed by Thrive!

The universal Thrive parent-education programs (i.e., Take Root, Sprout, Grow, and Branch Out), supplemental modules, and mini-booster modules are available for all parents for free at https://thrive.psu.edu

Having Developmentally Appropriate Expectations for your Preschooler

Even though preschool-age children can do many tasks independently, they still need a lot of support from their caregivers. By giving your child developmentally appropriate tasks to handle, you are helping them learn new skills and increase their self-confidence as they accomplish tasks independently. The following video illustrates and explains how you can divide complex tasks into manageable steps. In addition, you can view and learn about what developmentally appropriate tasks may look like for your preschool-age child. By engaging with your child in these ways, you are connecting with them, teaching them life skills, and modeling positive behavior.

To learn more, watch the Having Developmentally Appropriate Expectations for your Preschooler mini-booster module video, below, that developed by Thrive!

The universal Thrive parent-education programs (i.e., Take Root, Sprout, Grow, and Branch Out), supplemental modules, and mini-booster modules are available for all parents for free at https://thrive.psu.edu

Compassion: A Strategy for Caring for Yourself and Your Children

Humans are primed to react to a threat with a stress response. In modern society, we may no longer find ourselves facing tigers in the wild; however, our bodies may react with similar biological, fight-flight responses when we feel intense stress. The demands of parenting can be a source of stress, and, often, the stress we feel from parenting may be amplified when we respond to our actions and thoughts with self-judgement. Maybe you were late for your child’s school play due to traffic or your teenager approached you with sexual health questions that you didn’t answer with the level of comfort and openness you wish you had. Experiences such as these may leave you with an inner dialogue that is berating and discouraging.

The good news is that our brains are malleable, and we can limit self-criticism and unkind self-talk! Using compassion-based strategies, like mindfulness and meditation, can help us as they can calm and redirect our minds towards positive qualities such as gratitude, patience, kindness, and connection.

In the 1970s, Dr. Herbert Benson, a physician and professor at Harvard Medical School, identified and named the functional attribute of some compassion-based strategies (e.g., meditation, yoga, deep religious prayer) as “The Relaxation Response.” Benson indicated this response was the opposite of the body’s fight-flight response; it encouraged the body to release chemicals and signals that caused organs to slow (e.g., reduced heart rate), muscles to relax, and blood to flow to the brain (Mitchell, 2013; Powell, 2018). Research now confirms that compassion-based strategies can help individuals relax, reduce stress, and see benefits in mental and physical health. In addition, using these strategies may even promote longevity (Black & Slavich, 2016; Epel et al., 2009; Powell, 2018)!

The meaning of the word compassion comes from Latin, and it translates into “to suffer with.” Most definitions suggest that compassion encompasses both feeling or being moved by another’s suffering and wanting to take action to help (Strauss, 2016). Research reviews indicate that compassion consists of three dimensions. First, noticing a person’s suffering either cognitively or as a physical or affective reaction (e.g., awareness of another person’s mood or attitude). Second, feeling or reacting emotionally with concern in such a way that the other person’s perspective of the suffering is imagined or understood. Third, responding based on a desire to act and alleviate the other person’s suffering (Kanov et al., 2004; Strauss, 2016). Compassion can be felt for ourself, others we know, and individuals we have never met (e.g., refuges in a war-torn country).

Below are two compassion-based strategies that can be used to promote relaxation, better self-care, and loving-kindness towards yourself and others.

  • Mindfulness is awareness of the present moment with openness, curiosity, and acceptance. Mindfulness increases interoception, which is the ability to sense the internal state of one’s body. Attention to the present moment can help break the cycle of negative mental ruminations such as belittling yourself all day because you forgot to put a piece of fruit in your child’s lunch box in the morning!
  • Meditation is a grounding practice with an anchor such as focusing on your breathing. Meditation allows one to be calm and observe their inner experience without judgement.

In recent years, evidence in support of compassion-based strategies has grown. Consider just a few examples below:

  • In 2012, researchers (Desbordes et al.) conducted the first brain scans, known as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), of individuals after meditation training. The individuals experienced changes in the activity of their amygdala, which is the part of the brain that is responsible for emotional processing—especially fear and anxiety. These findings reinforce the concept that meditation can positively affect mental function outside of a meditative state and that our minds are trainable!
  • Researchers have demonstrated that meditation practices produce positive emotions, which can lead to growth in personal resources (e.g., increased sense of purpose and social support, decreased illness symptoms) that predict increased life satisfaction and reduced depressive symptoms (Fredrickson et al., 2008).
  • In 2018, an overview of scientific evidence related to compassion-based interventions and loving-kindness meditation was highlighted in the Harvard Review of Psychology. The researchers indicated, in this overview, that conditions such as depression, anxiety disorders, chronic pain, and post-traumatic stress disorder could be positively affected through use of these types of interventions and strategies as part of a treatment plan (Graser & Stangier, 2018).
  • Studies have repeatedly shown the impacts of self-compassion upon parenting. For example, a 2015 study (Robinson et al.) showed that when parents of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, such as autism, possessed self-compassion, they had lower levels of stress and depression. In addition, a review in 2017 revealed that parents who used mindfulness strategies experienced reduced distress when parenting children with disabilities (Ryan & Ahmad, 2017). Furthermore, possessing self-compassion has been shown to be a resource for supporting mothers’ general well-being and their ability to breastfeed throughout the first year of their baby’s life (Mitchell et al., 2018).

There are many benefits to being mindful and practicing meditation; they include the following:

  • These practices can create a calm state.
  • These practices allow for detachment from emotions, which may provide a buffer in responding to circumstances or people. As an individual separates themself from their thoughts and feelings, they may recognize that who they are is distinct from what they think and feel, especially in times of stress. For parents, this recognition allows individuals to go from reacting to stress in habitual or automatic ways to responding to stress with awareness. This mindfulness can help a parent to recognize and understand their thoughts, reactions, and behaviors in the moment and to parent with more gentleness and warmth (Kabat-Zinn, J. & Kabat-Zinn, M., 2021).
  • These practices allow individuals to connect with their authentic self and to send loving-kindness to themselves and others. Social connections are imperative to well-being. An 85-year Harvard research study recently demonstrated that close relationships are the key to human happiness—this includes a compassionate relationship with yourself (Liebergall, 2023)!
  • These practices increase an individual’s capacity to focus and remain on task.

Want to begin using compassion-based strategies?

Getting started can be as simple as taking 1 minute a day to sit tall with eyes closed or focused downward while quietly paying attention to your breath. Many of us have a few minutes each day of purposeless social media scrolling that could be replaced with a moment of mindfulness.

Below are a few example practices for you to try.

Sample Mindful Activity:

  1. Stretch a bit or shake your arms or body to release any emotions.
  2. Close your eyes, or glance downward.
  3. Now, listen. What are two things you hear (e.g., clock ticking)?
  4. What are two sensations you feel (e.g., warmth of a sweater, breeze from a fan)?
  5. What are two scents you smell (e.g., perfume, candle)?
  6. Open your eyes, and look around slowly. What are two items you see (e.g., sun outside the window)?

This simple activity can show you how much stimuli you experience during every moment but may not notice or acknowledge.

Sample Mindfulness Meditation – Focus on Breathing:

  1. Sit tall and comfortably with your eyes closed, or glance downward.
  2. Direct your attention to your breathing. Focus on slowly breathing in and out.
  3. As you inhale and exhale, pay attention to the sensation of your breathing in a single part of your body such as your nose, mouth, chest, or abdomen. For example, you might put a hand on your abdomen and focus on the rising and falling of your abdomen with each breath cycle.

It is natural for your mind to wander! Simply notice and bring your attention back to your breath, and be mindful of the present moment.

Here is a website for guidance on meditating for beginners: https://www.tenpercent.com/meditations/how-to-meditate

Loving-kindness Meditation:

Loving-kindness meditation is a technique used to promote feelings of warmth and caring for oneself and others. Unlike mindfulness meditation, which involves training one’s attention toward the present moment in a nonjudgmental way, loving-kindness meditation involves quiet contemplation and directs one’s positive emotions towards oneself and others in an open-hearted way.

  1. Sit quietly with your eyes closed, or glance downward.
  2. Breathe slowly and deeply.
  3. Focus on your heart region. You might place your hand(s) on your chest.
  4. Imagine yourself with inner peace, and know you are enough and whole as you are. Breathe in love; breathe out tension.
  5. As you breathe, repeat one or more positive phrases to yourself, such as the following:
    • I am meant to live in peace.
    • I am safe.
    • I am loved.
    • May I be happy and peaceful.
  1. Shift your attention, and think about a person for whom you feel warm and tender feelings (e.g., your child, a friend). You might visualize the person sitting in front of you.
  2. Mentally extend gratitude and warm feelings to this person.
  3. As you grow this practice, you may wish to also extend feelings of connection and compassion to others, such as an acquaintance, global populations who are suffering, or individuals with whom you are in conflict, as a way to invite forgiveness or peace.
  4. When you are finished, slowly open your eyes, and internalize the feelings of loving kindness, so you can tap into them throughout the day.

Other Self-compassion Techniques:

When you are enduring parenting stress, receiving feelings of support and comfort can offer relief. Consider the following techniques:

  • Think of a family member or friend, and consider ways in which they previously brought you peace. Did your grandmother stroke your hair as you lay in her lap? Did your father use a term of endearment to cheer you when you were downtrodden? Did a friend brighten your day with a smile and laughter last time you were together?
  • Comfort yourself with loving actions, such as putting your hand over your heart or giving yourself a hug, and whisper kind words to yourself such as “I love you” or “You can do this.”
  • Take a momentary break and acknowledge your current parenting challenge or demand. Recognize that other parents have and are currently feeling the way you do! Extend compassion to yourself.
  • Recognize that you are not alone. Your biological makeup consists of many generations before you! Draw on the resiliency of your ancestors by picturing yourself surrounded by family members or others who love and support you.

(Abdullah, 2018)

Additional Resources

There are a variety of resources that you can use to learn about and practice compassion-based strategies.

Access free online meditations like those from the sources below.

Read a book that highlights the research and strategies of mindfulness and meditation like those below.

  • Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life by Jon Kabat-Zinn
  • Real Happiness: A 28-Day Program to Realize the Power of Meditation by Sharon Salzberg
  • 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help that Actually Works – A True Story by Dan Harris
  • Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting by Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn
  • What Now?: Meditation for Your Twenties and Beyond by Yael Shy
  • True Refuge by Tara Brach

A variety of apps are available that have guided meditations and other resources like the following.

Podcasts, such as those listed below, discuss the benefits of mindfulness and meditation.

Additional resources are available like the following.


Abdullah, M. (2018, April 17). Self-compassion for parents. Greater Good Magazine: Mind & Body. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/self_compassion_for_parents

Black, D. S., & Slavich, G. M. (2016). Mindfulness meditation and the immune system: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences1373(1), 13-24. https://doi.org/10.1111/nyas.12998

Desbordes, G., Negi, L. T., Pace, T. W., Wallace, B. A., Raison, C. L., & Schwartz, E. L. (2012). Effects of mindful-attention and compassion meditation training on amygdala response to emotional stimuli in an ordinary, non-meditative state. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience6, 292. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2012.00292

Epel, E., Daubenmier, J., Moskowitz, J. T., Folkman, S., & Blackburn, E. (2009). Can meditation slow rate of cellular aging? Cognitive stress, mindfulness, and telomeres. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences1172(1), 34-53. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1749-6632.2009.04414.x

Fredrickson, B. L., Cohn, M. A., Coffey, K. A., Pek, J., & Finkel, S. M. (2008). Open hearts build lives: Positive emotions, induced through loving-kindness meditation, build consequential personal resources. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95(5), 1045–1062. https://psycnet.apa.org/doi/10.1037/a0013262

Graser, J., & Stangier, U. (2018). Compassion and loving-kindness meditation: An overview and prospects for the application in clinical samples. Harvard Review of Psychiatry, 26(4), 201–215. https://doi.org/10.1097/hrp.0000000000000192

Hofmann, S. G., Grossman, P., & Hinton, D. E. (2011). Loving-kindness and compassion meditation: Potential for psychological interventions. Clinical Psychology Review, 31(7), 1126–1132. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpr.2011.07.003

Hutcherson, C. A., Seppala, E. M., & Gross, J. J. (2008). Loving-kindness meditation increases social connectedness. Emotion, 8(5), 720-724. https://psycnet.apa.org/doi/10.1037/a0013237

Kabat-Zinn, J. & Kabat-Zinn, M. (2021). Mindful parenting: Perspectives on the heart of the matter. Mindfulness, 12, 266-268. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-020-01564-7

Kanov, J. M., Maitlis, S., Worline, M. C., Dutton, J. E., Frost, P. J., & Lilius, J. M. (2004). Compassion in organizational life. American Behavioral Scientist47(6), 808-827. https://doi.org/10.1177/0002764203260211

Liebergall, M. (Host). (2023, February 16). Author Talks: The world’s longest study of adult development finds the key to happy living [Interview]. McKinsey & Company. https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/mckinsey-on-books/author-talks-the-worlds-longest-study-of-adult-development-finds-the-key-to-happy-living

Mitchell, A. E., Whittingham, K., Steindl, S., & Kirby, J. (2018). Feasibility and acceptability of a brief online self-compassion intervention for mothers of infants. Archives of Women’s Mental Health, 21, 553–561.https://doi.org/10.1007/s00737-018-0829-y

Mitchell, M. (2013, March 29). Dr. Herbert Benson’s Relaxation Response: Learn to counteract the physiological effects of stress. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/heart-and-soul-healing/201303/dr-herbert-benson-s-relaxation-response

Powell, A. (2018). When science meets mindfulness. The Harvard Gazette. https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2018/04/harvard-researchers-study-how-mindfulness-may-change-the-brain-in-depressed-patients/

Rayan, A., & Ahmad, M. (2018). Mindfulness and parenting distress among parents of children with disabilities: A literature review. Perspectives in Psychiatric Care54(2), 324–330. https://doi.org/10.1111/ppc.12217

Robinson, S., Hastings, R. P., Weiss, J. A., Pagavathsing, J., & Lunsky, Y. (2018). Self-compassion and psychological distress in parents of young people and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities31(3), 454–458. https://doi.org/10.1111/jar.12423

Scott, E. (2020, February 11). How to practice loving kindness meditation. Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/how-to-practice-loving-kindness-meditation-3144786

Strauss, C., Taylor, B. L., Gu, J., Kuyken, W., Baer, R., Jones, F., & Cavanagh, K. (2016). What is compassion and how can we measure it? A review of definitions and measures. Clinical Psychology Review47, 15-27.https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpr.2016.05.004

Wong, C. C. Y., Mak, W. W. S. & Liao, K. Y. H. (2016). Self-compassion: A potential buffer against affiliate stigma experienced by parents of children with autism spectrum disorders. Mindfulness, 7, 1385–1395. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-016-0580-2I got all 

Zeng, X., Chiu, C. P., Wang, R., Oei, T. P., & Leung, F.Y. (2015). The effect of loving-kindness meditation on positive emotions: A meta-analytic review. Frontiers in Psychology, 6, 1693. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01693

Breathe Easier Knowing You Are Protecting Your Child From Air Pollution

News articles that warn Americans of the dangers of climate change are not new; however, you may have recently noticed an increase in air-quality alerts and, perhaps, poorer air quality in your backyard. This situation is, in large part, due to smoke and fine particle matter from Canadian wildfires that are traveling hundreds of miles into the continental United States. Protecting your family’s health from air pollution is important at any time, but, with the increase in air-quality alerts, you may be particularly interested in addressing this concern and reducing your family’s risks.

Understand the types of air pollution.

The Clean Air Act regulates major air pollutants in the United States. Below are descriptions of two major sources of air pollution:

  • Particle pollution is a combination of solid and liquid droplets in the air, such as dust, dirt, smoke, pollen, mold spores, and soot. Particle pollution can be especially high when you are near busy traffic areas, when smoke is present (e.g., camp fires, wildfires), and when the weather is calm, and the air is stagnant (e.g., hot, humid day versus a windy, rainy, or snowy day). Particle pollution often has a seasonal pattern based on location (e.g., more wood stove use in cooler weather months in the mountains).
  • Ground-level ozone pollution forms in sunlight from sources like vehicles, power plants, and industrial facilities (e.g., areas of fracking; large-scale animal operations) and can be found in products that are not environmentally friendly (i.e., paints or solvents). This type of air pollution intensifies with heat, so it is especially concerning in the afternoon and in the early evening on hot, sunny days. Therefore, it is best to plan your family’s outdoor activities when it is cool outside or in the morning when air quality is better.

National air-quality standards are set by the Environmental Protection Agency. In addition to particle pollution and ground-level ozone pollution, the following chemicals are major pollutants that can impact air quality:

  • Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that is colorless and odorless. It results from the incomplete burning of natural gas or products that contain carbon (e.g., wood, oil, coal, kerosene, propane). This gas can be produced within or around homes from sources such as gas water heaters, vehicle exhaust, faulty heating sources, and charcoal grills (Penn Medicine, 2021).
  • Sulfur dioxide is a naturally occurring gas that consists of sulfur and oxygen. It causes acid rain. This gas results from burning fossil fuels like coal (United States Environmental Protection Agency, 2008).
  • Nitrogen dioxide is a respiratory irritant that precedes ozone formation. The main source of it is combustion sources like vehicles, power plants, and industrial engines (United States Environmental Protection Agency, 2010).

Monitor air quality as air pollution is more problematic for children.

Children are at greater risk of incurring health complications due to air pollution. Monitoring your child’s environment for poor air quality is critical for the following reasons:

  • Children tend to be shorter than adults and are closer to the ground; therefore, they are more likely to breathe pollution particles that have settled.
  • Children are more likely than adults to spend time outdoors engaging in physical activity (e.g., play, school recess).
  • Children’s respiratory rates are faster than adults. So, they breathe in more air in comparison to their body weight than adults do.
  • Children’s bodies and their organs are still developing. This means that they are sensitive to environmental toxins. Air pollution can reduce lung-function development and affect the growth and development of the brain and central nervous system, which controls activities like learning, emotion, self-control, problem-solving, and memory (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2021; Brumberg et al., 2021; Mahnke et al., 2023).

Remember, children, especially infants and toddlers, are unable to monitor their exposure to air pollution and modify their environment on their own. You play an important role in protecting them!

Check your local Air Quality Index regularly.

One of the simplest ways to be vigilant is to assess your local air quality. The official United States Air Quality Index (AQI) is a color-coded index, which is designed to inform individuals whether their local outdoor air quality is healthy or unhealthy. The highest ratings have a value over 151 and are coded red (unhealthy), purple (very unhealthy), and hazardous (maroon).

AirNow, is a website supported by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and its partners. This website allows users to enter a zip code, city, or state to immediately receive an Air Quality Index report for their local air quality. Users can also access a variety of other information on the website, including forecast air-quality reports, health activity guides, and interactive air-quality maps for more than 500 cities across the United States.

Stay apprised of circumstances that may impact your air quality! If you are concerned, check the Air Quality Index for your community before taking your child outdoors to engage in physical activity. This will empower you to take precautions as needed to protect your family’s health.

Recognize and prepare to guard against the dangers of air pollution.

Air pollution is a potential threat to all children’s health. It has been associated with respiratory infections, asthma, preterm births, low birth weight, infant mortality, abnormal lung development, neurodevelopmental disorders (i.e., growth and development of the brain and/or central nervous system), cognitive effects and IQ loss, autism, pediatric cancers, obesity, and risks for other chronic diseases later in adult life (e.g., diabetes, cardiovascular disease, pulmonary disease; American Academy of Pediatrics, 2021; Brumberg et al., 2021; Mahnke et al., 2023).

Some populations are at increased risk from air-pollution exposure. Older adults and individuals with health conditions, such as heart or lung disease, are at greater risk when air quality is poor. For these individuals, the impacts of breathing polluted air can include hospitalization or death (AirNow, n.d.). In children with chronic health conditions such as asthma, allergies, or other chronic diseases, air pollution has been shown to worsen health conditions (Mahnke et al., 2023). Children living in poverty and children of marginalized races/ethnicities are more likely to reside in areas in which United States air-quality standards are not met and where they experience elevated exposures to hazardous air pollutants that are known to cause health conditions like cancers (Brumberg et al, 2021; Mahnke et al., 2023). Residents who live in geographic areas that are affected by environmental factors like extreme or prolonged heat, droughts, or wildfires can encounter increased risks; air pollution can present in these communities as smog, dust, smoke, and elevated ozone and carbon dioxide (Mahnke et al., 2023).
During times of poor air quality, any individual can experience symptoms like the following:

  • Undergoing eye, nose, or throat irritation;
  • Coughing or experiencing increased phlegm production; or
  • Having difficulty breathing (e.g., chest tightness, shortness of breath).

Children may have more trouble breathing than other individuals when the air quality is poor, especially when smoke or ash is present. Respiratory hazards, like mold, nuisance dust (e.g., pollen or dust from sanding wood), andwildfire smoke, can be reduced through the use of a respirator or mask by adults and children 2 years old or older. For information on the function and fit of different types of respirators and masks, review information provided by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

Protecting Children with Asthma
If your child has asthma, have their relief medications readily available when air quality is poor. Also, discuss and/or complete an asthma action plan with your child’s doctor, and share the plan with your child’s school. The action plan can include content on how to recognize and treat asthma symptoms, how to manage and limit asthma triggers, and how to use medications. Sample asthma action plans are available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Take small actions to make a big difference in the air we breathe!

Breathing is essential to life, and everyone can do their part to reduce air pollution. Natural experiments, like traffic restrictions during the 1996 and 2008 Olympics and curtailment of commercial flights during the COVID-19 pandemic’s state-of-emergency restrictions, have demonstrated that air-quality improvements are possible and can have positive impacts on community health (Brumberg et al., 2021; Friedman et al., 2001; Mueller et al., 2022; Wang et al., 2009). Below are some steps you can take to reduce the negative health impacts that poor air quality can cause, so the air your child breathes is safe and helps them grow healthy!

  • When air quality conditions are poor, remain indoors and keep windows closed. Limit vigorous outdoor activity.
  • If possible, choose a home and child care or school that are not located close to heavy traffic or sources of pollution (e.g., dry cleaning store, airports).
  • Plant trees and add plants to your outdoor green space to help filter the air. Mulch or compost leaves and yard waste instead of burning them.
  • Reduce carbon emissions with a cleaner commute—walk, cycle, carpool, or use public transportation.
  • Some emerging data suggest that vitamins C, D, and E might mitigate the oxidative effects of air pollution (Brumberg et al, 2021). Feed your child(ren) healthy meals that include quality proteins and fruits and vegetables (e.g., citrus fruits, dark leafy greens, seafood, eggs, mushrooms, asparagus, almonds). [Caution: Avoid feeding your child any foods that are known allergens for them.]
  • Purchase a portable carbon dioxide detector to monitor problems with air circulation in your home or travel sites. Elevated carbon dioxide levels can cause drowsiness, headaches, poor concentration, dizziness, increased heart rate or blood pressure, and nausea. At the highest levels, oxygen deprivation can result and lead to convulsions, coma, and death.
  • Consider upgrading your heating/cooling source to a heat pump or ductless heat pump, or use electric heat for more efficiency and to reduce carbon emissions. Use high-efficiency particulate absorbing (HEPA) air filters in your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system.
  • Purchase zero-emission vehicles, and combine trips for errands to avoid multiple ignition starts and idling. Keep your vehicle’s tires inflated to the recommended pressure, and try to avoid spillage when fueling. Ensure your gas cap is tightened after fueling.
  • Keep all vehicles’ (e.g., car, boat) engines maintained to prevent smoking.
  • Turn off lights and other devices (e.g., televisions, computers) when not in use.
  • Properly use environmentally safe household and garden products (e.g., cleaners, paints), and seal them well to prevent evaporation. Look for products marked as low-volatile organic compounds (i.e., low-VOC).
  • When buying appliances and equipment, purchase items with Energy Star labels as they will conserve energy.
  • Set your air conditioner at a higher temperature in the summer, and set your heating source at a lower temperature in the winter.
  • Reduce fireplace and wood stove use. Use gas logs instead of wood if possible. If you must burn wood, visit the Burn Wise Program for clean strategies. Limit the use of candles.
  • Avoid smoking tobacco products or exposing your child to second hand tobacco smoke from others.
  • Advocate for renewable energy; reduced reliance on coal, gas, and oil; and regulations on industrial emissions.

Additional Resources

AirNow – U.S. Air Quality Index


AirNow hosts an air-quality website, which is supported through a partnership of the United States Environmental Protection Agency; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; National Park Service; National Aeronautics and Space Administration; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and tribal, state, and local air-quality agencies. The partners and others from across the country send their monitoring data to AirNow for local Air Quality Indexes to be displayed for users. In addition, the Department of State provides data from United States Embassies and Consulates to help inform military personnel and other citizens overseas of air quality outside the United States. In addition, the United States Forest Service contributes fire and smoke data.

Climate Kids – Air


The National Aeronautics and Space Administration hosts the Climate Kids website for children, and it includes information on air pollution. Climate change is explained using games, activities, and videos. Your child can learn about earth and ocean scientists and environmental topics like the weather, the atmosphere, water, energy sources, animals, and plants.


AirNow. (n.d.). Older adults and air quality. https://www.airnow.gov/air-quality-and-health/older-adults

AirNow. (n.d.). What you can do. https://www.airnow.gov/education/what-you-can-do/

American Academy of Pediatrics. (2021, May 13). AAP highlights impact of air pollution on children’s health. Healthchildren.org. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/news/Pages/Air-Pollution-Childrens-Health.aspx

Brumberg, H. L., Karr, C. J., Boyle, A., Ahdoot, S., Balk, S. J., Bernstein, A. S., Byron, L. G., Landrigan, P. J., Marcus, S. M., Nerlinger, A. L., Pacheco, S. E., Woolf, A. D., Zajac, L., Baum, C. R., Campbell, C. C., Sample, J. A., Spanier, A. J., & Trasande, L. (2021). Ambient air pollution: Health hazards to children. Pediatrics, 147(6), 1-13.https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2021-051484

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2023, May 16). Community respirators and masks. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/publicppe/community-ppe.html#anchor_514697

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2023, June 12). Wildfire smoke and children. Air Quality. https://www.cdc.gov/air/wildfire-smoke/children.htm

Friedman, M. S., Powell, K. E., Hutwagner, L., Graham, L. M., & Teague, W. G. (2001). Impact of changes in transportation and commuting behaviors during the 1996 summer Olympic games in Atlanta on air quality and childhood asthma. JAMA, 285(7), 897– 905. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.285.7.897

Mahnke, S., Rai, P., & Friedman, E. (2023, July 6). How climate change, heat, & air pollution affect kid’s health.Healthychildren.org. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/all-around/Pages/how-climate-change-heat-and-air-pollution-affect-kids-health.aspx

Mueller, S. C., Hudda, N., Levy, J. I., Durant, J. L., Patil, P., Lee, N. F., Weiss, I., Tatro, T., Duhl, T., & Lane, K. (2022). Changes in ultrafine particle concentrations near a major airport following reduced transportation activity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Environmental Science and Technology Letters, 9(9), 706-711. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.estlett.2c00322

Penn Medicine. (2021, February 12). What is carbon monoxide poisoning? https://www.pennmedicine.org/for-patients-and-visitors/patient-information/conditions-treated-a-to-z/carbon-monoxide-poisoning

Pennsylvania State University. (2023, July 17). Wildfire smoke: Campus communities should monitor conditions, follow guidelines. https://www.psu.edu/news/campus-life/story/wildfire-smoke-campus-communities-should-monitor-conditions-follow-guidelines/

United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2023, June 26). What is particle pollution? https://www.epa.gov/pmcourse/what-particle-pollution

United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2010, April 14). Nitrogen dioxide. In United States Environmental Protection Agency vocabulary catalog: Air permitting terms. Retrieved July 18, 2023, from https://sor.epa.gov/sor_internet/registry/termreg/searchandretrieve/glossariesandkeywordlists/search.do?details=&glossaryName=Air%20Permitting%20Terms

United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2008, August 14). Sulfur dioxide. In United States Environmental Protection Agency vocabulary catalog: Acid rain glossary. Retrieved July 18, 2023, from https://sor.epa.gov/sor_internet/registry/termreg/searchandretrieve/glossariesandkeywordlists/search.do?details=&glossaryName=Acid%20Rain%20Glossary#formTop

United States Environmental Protection Agency, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, & School Flag Program. (2014). Air quality and outdoor activity guidance for schools (EPA-456/F-14-003). AirNow. https://panthers.app.cloud.gov/sites/default/files/2021-03/school-outdoor%20activity%20guidance.pdf

Wang, Y., Hao, J., McElroy, M. B., Munger, J. W., Ma, H., Chen, D., & Nielsen, C. P. (2009). Ozone air quality during the 2008 Beijing Olympics: Effectiveness of emission restrictions. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 9(14), 5237-5251. https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-9-5237-2009

Wisconsin Department of Health Services. (2023, March 29). Carbon Dioxide – Learn what you need to know about carbon dioxide. https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/chemical/carbondioxide.htm

Adolescent Social Media Use

Recently published statistics indicated that, in 2018, 97% of youth in the United States between the ages of 13 and 17 interacted with social media apps (Mayo Clinic, 2022), and, usually, this interface occurred on their own devices. In fact, it is common to see youth this age interacting and engaging regularly with social media. So, is this increased usage of social media positive, negative, or does it have both qualities? Whether adolescents’ use of social media is helpful, harmful, or both is complicated, and the answer likely depends on several factors, such as your child’s age, maturity or developmental level, and/or self-confidence.

Adolescent outcomes from social-media usage can vary from person to person and experience to experience (Beyens et al., 2020). Your child may be using social media to continue, or enhance, connections with their peers. For example, your child may be sharing their new favorite song, discussing a homework assignment, or having other positive and meaningful interactions with another child. However, as a parent, you will probably want to be knowledgeable about and aware of whom your child is communicating with and how your child is communicating with them. For example, your child may, knowingly or unknowingly, be engaging in harmful interactions, like as a perpetrator or victim of bullying.

Let’s examine some of the benefits and dangers of adolescent social-media usage and consider how you can help your adolescent’s social-media experience be positive.

Adolescent Social Media Benefits

Healthy socialization

Developmentally, adolescents are at a stage in life when they begin to explore and understand where they fit socially into society. Social experiences become increasingly important and frequent as children move through their teenage years (Shah et al., 2019). Teens may often confide in one another during times of emotional distress or confusion. This interaction is not new to the social-media age, and, generally, it is not a bad situation. Using social media allows teens to have discussions and voice their thoughts and feelings in real time (Shah et al., 2019). In addition, they can share and apply pro-social behaviors and standards that can translate into offline social interactions. Furthermore, research has continually shown that social-media use can help adolescents make and keep friendships (Uhls et al., 2017).


Using social media can provide opportunities for adolescents to explore who they are as an individual, such as their values, needs, or goals, and determine how they want to present themselves to others. Some research has shown that adolescents who communicate online demonstrate higher levels of self-understanding (Uhls et al., 2017). Additionally, social media can give teens an avenue for self-expression. Research indicates that there is a connection between social-media usage and adolescents being able to express themselves in a way that feels true to themselves, and this, then, can increase youths’ levels of self-confidence (Kim et al., 2019).

Adolescent Social Media Dangers

Psychological challenges

As discussed above, social media can have a positive impact on child development. However, social-media usage also has the potential to have a negative psychological impact on children (Shah et al., 2019). Some of the more common negative consequences include the following:

  • Experience depression
  • Develop body image issues
  • Increase risky behavior
  • Feel anxious
  • Suffer loneliness
  • Experience suicide ideation


Cyberbullying refers to aggressive and harassing actions that an individual or group uses via electronic communication with the intent to harm or intimidate another person or group. Research indicates that victims of cyberbullying have an increased chance of developing depression or other maladaptive behavioral problems. Furthermore, digital applications offer an avenue for bullies to use as they exhibit harmful behaviors because they eliminate ways their victims can avoid them, they decrease the chance of bystander intervention, and they maintain online anonymity (Parris et al., 2022; Shah, 2019). In addition, victims of cyberbullying are often not the targets of in-person bullying (Parris et al., 2022), which means that parents cannot rely on in-person social interactions their child has as predictors of their child’s online experiences.

Some examples of cyberbullying include the following:

  • Engaging in harassment via instant messaging (e.g., direct messaging, wall postings, text),
  • Creating websites that target a specific individual,
  • Posting pictures or videos the victim would not want to have posted,
  • Producing threatening video content, and
  • Doxing (i.e., accessing and sharing a victim’s personal information found online with the intention of eroding the privacy and/or security of the victim)

What Can Parents and Caregivers Do to Ensure a Healthy Social Media Experience?

Promoting open and honest discussions with adolescents is one way to help these youth deal with many of the challenges they face in their lives—including social-media experiences. These conversations could happen regularly, so you are able to check in and follow any challenges your child may be having. You can help your child understand digital boundaries by explaining to your child what their online behavior is expected to be. Make sure you and child clearly understand and agree about what content and interactions are allowed based on your family’s rules. In addition, you will want to explain to your child how they can keep themselves safe while interacting with others online. Below, find a few resources that contain information on safety steps you can share with your child.

Earlier this year the American Psychological Association (APA) released their most current recommendations for adolescent social-media use. The APA is a premier scientific and professional organization that sets benchmarks and recommendations for the field of psychology. This report urges parents to ensure their youth engage in some type of “social media literacy training” (American Psychological Association, 2023). Social-media literacy training includes mental, emotional, and technical preparation that intends to promote positive social-media experiences and outcomes (Polanco-Levicán & Salvo-Garrido, 2022). There are learning activities, planners, tips, and conversation guides that parents and children can access. For instance, Comonsense.org has several different social-media literacy resources and trainings that are tailored to different child-development stages and needs. Becoming social-media literate is only one of the APA’s recommendations for positive adolescent social-media usage.

A few of the additional recommendations given by the APA report include the following:

  • Be mindful of your child’s stage of development, and adjust usage, settings, and permissions based on this level of development.
  • Monitor what your child is doing on social media. Be sure to keep your child’s privacy in mind while doing this. Younger children will most likely need more supervision and instruction on how to use social media safely. As children mature, offer opportunities for your child to increase their digital literacy and gain confidence. Parents may wish to allow their child more privacy in their social-media usage as the child gets older.
  • Explain, in a developmentally appropriate way, and be clear about the associated family and/or legal consequences of engaging in social-media activities that encourage illegal behavior or other harmful and high-risk behaviors.
  • Monitor your child and be vigilant about supervising their social-media usage so you can help identify when social media is having a negative impact on your child’s mental health.
  • Establish family rules around social-media use (e.g., Family Media Plan) to prevent social media from interfering with your adolescent’s sleep or exercise.

A link to the full APA report, Health Advisory on Social Media Use in Adolescence, can be found below in the Additional Resources section below.

The Thrive Initiative offers web-based universal parent-education programming—Grow and Branch Out—and two supplemental parent-education modules—Adolescent Mental Health: Parenting to Wellness and Harmful Behaviors: Recognize. Respond. Repair —that can offer additional strategies for engaging in social-media use for adolescents and teens. You can find more about each program listed above by visiting the Thrive website at https://thrive.psu.edu

Parents will likely want to understand the impacts that social-media use can have on their child’s development and health. Youth should be encouraged to explore and interact with the parts of social media that can be productive and healthy. On the other hand, there are dangers, and you and your child should discuss these dangers, so they can be avoided if possible. The digital landscape is constantly changing, which, makes it difficult to be aware of all of the areas and uses of social media, and new social-media apps are continually being developed and adopted. Therefore, to help and protect your child, engage in ongoing and honest conversations with your child.

Additional Resources

APA Health Advisory on Social Media Use In Adolescence


This offers a more in depth look at the APA findings and guidance mentioned above. The web page provides the key findings of the study and a detailed list of 10 recommendations for adolescent social-media usage.

Healthychildren.org- Family Media Plan


The Family Media Plan is a robust tool that helps families clearly establish expectations of media usage. Topics covered include agreed upon amount of screen time usage, how privacy will be managed, and expected online behavior.

Online Safety Fact Sheet


This resource provides parents and caregivers with an explanation of some of the negative impacts social-media usage can have on adolescents. It also provides platform-specific strategies and advice for parents regarding teen social-media use.

Stopbullying.gov- Cyberbullying


Stopbullying.gov is a federal website that is provided and curated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The website offers several resources and information regarding bullying and cyberbullying. The cyberbullying portion of the website provides parents, caregivers, teachers, and individuals who interact with youth topics for discussion and strategies and tools that can be used to help reduce cyberbullying.


American Psychological Association. (2023, May 9). APA panel issues recommendations for adolescent social media use. Press Releases. https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2023/05/adolescent-social-media-use-recommendations

Beyens, I., Pouwels, J. L., van Driel, I. I., Keijsers, L., & Valkenburg, P. M. (2020). The effect of social media on well-being differs from adolescent to adolescent. Scientific Reports10(1). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-67727-7

Kim E. S., Hong, Y. J., Kim, M., Kim, E. J. & Kim, J. J. (2019).  Relationship between self-esteem and self-consciousness in adolescents: An eye-tracking study. Psychiatry Investigation, 16(4), 306-313. https://doi.org/10.30773/pi.2019.02.10.3

Mayo Clinic. (2022, February 26). Teens and social media use: What’s the impact? Tween and teen health. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/tween-and-teen-health/in-depth/teens-and-social-media-use/art-20474437#:~:text=A%202018%20Pew%20Research%20Center,%2C%20Facebook%2C%20Instagram%20or%20Snapchat.

Parris, L., Lannin, D. G., Hynes, K., & Yazedjian, A. (2022). Exploring social media rumination: Associations with bullying, cyberbullying, and distress. Journal of Interpersonal Violence37(5-6).

Polanco-Levicán, K., & Salvo-Garrido, S. (2022). Understanding social media literacy: A systematic review of the concept and its competences. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health,19(14). https://doi.org/10.3390%2Fijerph19148807

Shah, J., Das, P., Muthiah, N., & Milanaik, R. (2019). New age technology and social media: Adolescent psychosocial implications and the need for protective measures. Current Opinion in Pediatrics31(1), 148-156. http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/MOP.0000000000000714

Uhls, Y. T., Ellison, N. B., & Subrahmanyam, K. (2017). Benefits and costs of social media in adolescence. Pediatrics140(Supp 2), S67-S70. https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2016-1758E