RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – According to the U.S. Surgeon General, spending more than three hours a day on social media doubles the risk of a child between the ages of 12 to 15 experiencing poor mental health outcomes, including symptoms of depression and anxiety. 

On Tuesday, Aug. 8, Governor Glenn Youngkin met with parents in Henrico County as part of a “Parents Matter” discussion and heard all about how families are handling their children being online. 

“So as many times as we put up any kind of block mechanisms or security things for our children, it is like closing a door with all the windows open,” one parent said. “I feel like anyone can come in at any time. As much as we try to protect our children, it’s really hard and you feel incredibly vulnerable.” 

Dr. Bela Sood is a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU. She says social media can be obsessive and isolating. 

“When kids are producing creative stuff and putting it on the net and find that they have more likes and dislikes, they are putting much more valence on that than, say, their parents or their friends in the neighborhood or their best friend who says you do good work,” Dr. Sood said. 

Sood adds it’s important for parents to become educated on social media so they can work with their kids to set boundaries. 

“By really engaging the kids in a non-judgmental way and being curious about these platforms that they are using, even video games,” Dr. Sood said. “Just kind of go and sit and ask questions without a pre-thought idea in your head that this is bad.” 

Currently, it is federally mandated that kids under 13 must get parental permission to join a social media site. Youngkin says he wants that expanded to all kids under 18.