According to an article from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) “90 percent of teens ages 13-17 have used social media” and teens average “almost nine hours a day, not including time for homework” online. On January 29 at noon, the Somerset County Library System of New Jersey (SCLSNJ) will partner with Somerset County Youth Services for a virtual social media wellness program for tweens and teens with author and educator Ana Homayoun.

“Social media, especially at a time of isolation, allows all of us to collaborate and embrace healthy connections,” said Linda M. Porcaro, director of youth services, Somerset County. “Youth Services and SCLSNJ are embracing this collaboration to set the stage for sharing the message of the value of positive social media.”

During the program, students in grades 6-12 and their caregivers will have the opportunity to digitally meet with Homayoun, who will offer tips on how to practice social media wellness during this unique school year.

“Working with kids in today’s digital world has never been so complex, and keeping up with the latest social media trends can seem like a never-ending challenge,” said Homayoun. ”In this pandemic school year, many teens and young adults have found online tools to be the critical lifeline for promoting and maintaining community. At the same time, our current learning environments also play host to many distractions, including social media.”

In Homayoun’s 2018 book, “Social Media Wellness: Helping Tweens and Teens Thrive in an Unbalanced Digital World,” the author aims to help teens, parents, and educators better understand social media socialization, while providing practical tips on how to make better choices around social media use and overall wellness.

In the book she states that “social media should not be seen as strictly positive or negative. Instead, it should be addressed as a new language and cultural shift that provides different opportunities to connect and communicate.”

Throughout the book the author delves into the ways social media affects tweens and teens; social and emotional wellness; implementing wellness strategies at home and at school; and more. 

The Library System has been dedicated to supporting students, caregivers, and educators navigate the educational shift towards virtual and hybrid learning, through the Supportive Assistance for Education (S.A.F.E.) Families initiative. Previously, SCLSNJ focused on social media wellness with a program featuring social media phenom Alexa Chalnick, best known for her engaging songwriting challenges and #SingForAlexa videos.

“Social Media is an integral part of the modern tween and teen social dynamic, especially given the current state of the world where face-to-face interactions are increasingly limited,” said Jodi Silverman, young adult and adult librarian. “The barriers put in place to physically protect our young adults’ health unfortunately places greater emphasis on a need to connect with their peers to support their social-emotional growth and mental health needs.”

Continued Silverman, “Library programs, like Alexa Chalnick’s October interview, afford tweens and teens a positive role model to emulate when considering the ‘do’s and don’ts’ of online interactions. We are thrilled to be able to partner with Somerset County Youth Services to offer another program that supports social media wellness for our tweens and teens featuring noted author and educator Ana Homayoun.”

Connect with Homayoun and discover social media wellness with your Library and Somerset County Youth Services. Register now: sclsnj.libnet.info/event/4672496

For more information about Somerset County’s Youth Services department: www.co.somerset.nj.us/government/human-services/youth-services.