Committee Opinion No 653 Summary: Concerns Regarding Social Media and Health Issues in Adolescents and Young Adults

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Abstract

Although there are many positive aspects of social media for adolescents and young adults, there are also risks. Adolescence is a time of significant developmental changes, during which adolescents exhibit a limited capacity for self-regulation and an increased risk of susceptibility to peer pressure and experimentation. Social media can be harmful, and obstetrician–gynecologists may screen their adolescent and young adult patients for high-risk sexual behaviors, especially if sexualized text communication (sexting), exposure to pornography, online dating, or other risk-taking behaviors are present. Victims of cyberbullying and those who engage in sexting are at increased risk of sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy. The effect of social media may be considered in the differential diagnosis of myriad health problems during adolescence. Referrals to mental health care providers or providing outside resources may be indicated. A multidisciplinary approach to address these issues can include the obstetrician–gynecologist, guardians, and school officials and personnel. Knowledge of resources, including those within the schools and community, allows the obstetrician–gynecologist to provide support to adolescents facing these issues.

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