TREASURE VALLEY, Idaho — The U.S. Surgeon General is warning of a youth mental health crisis and after a string of youth suicides in Nampa in the last few months, the Treasure Valley is seeing the impact of that crisis.
Recently, many are considering the harmful effects of social media, including local officials who are urging parents to take action to protect their kids from social media's potentially harmful influence.
"I don't think that parents really understand the social landscape that we're in with social media being as big as it is," Daniel griffin, the corporate director of the Imagine program at Northpoint Recovery said.
Social media can be harmful for many reasons.
"The connection that people experience over social media is not akin to the kind of connection that kids need--or people in general need--you know face to face," Griffin said.
Another harmful aspect is comparison culture.
"You see something on social media and you start to consciously or subconsciously judge your own life against what you're seeing," Griffin said.
These things can have harmful effects on mental health, but social media is affecting more than just mental health. It's also spreading trends that can be dangerous and have serious consequences.
"With these trends, it's not just on TikTok first of all. It's kind of based over all of social media, TikTok, Snapchat and everything like that," School Resource Officer, Dallas Denney said.
One option for parents to try to mitigate social media's harmful effects and their kids' participation in these trends are parental controls. There are several options for both android and apple devices.
"With the iPhone, it comes with the phone. You go to the screen time and then it'll have parental controls there. If you have an android phone then you can go to the android store, download the family link," Nampa School Resource Officer, Stu Hobson said.
Bark and MMGuardian both charge a monthly fee, but Hobson said these apps provide more options and parent education to learn how to use parental controls.
These parental control features and apps allow parents to monitor what their child is searching, block sites and set time limits for how long their child can use a certain app.
Griffin says parental controls can be helpful oversight, but communication is also important, "If it's just like a no discussion, you're barred from this, I know everything you're doing then that can kind of impede someone's concept of privacy and autonomy."
There are also signs parents can look for to know if their child is struggling.
"Depression, anxiety, isolation, talks of wanting to go to sleep and not wake up, wanting to sleep all the time," Griffin said.
Griffin also wants parents to know that talking about suicide with their child is not a bad thing.
"Talking about suicide and helping kids find support for having those thoughts and those experiences will only help," he said.
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255 or text the hotline at (208) 398-4357.