Five tips to help tweens and teens find social media balance

If you’re a tween or teen and use your phone a lot, that’s totally normal. But if you ever find yourself distressed by what you see — maybe it’s meanness, or bullying, or just feeling low because other people’s social media posts make their lives look better than yours — read on for some tips on how to take back control.

My first book, FRIEND ME from Scholastic Press, is a thriller for middle grade readers about a girl who’s bullied online and off — but her phone is also the only way she can talk to her best friend. I wanted to explore this problem that a lot of people have, who are being bullied by phone: it’s not realistic to dump your phone, because it connects you to the rest of your life. So how do you balance the good stuff with the bad, when it comes to social media and phone use?

Here are five tips I’d like to share with you. If you’d like to find where you can get a copy of FRIEND ME, you can go here, or if you have a Scholastic Book Fair at your school, you can order a copy there. Or, ask your library and they can help find you a copy to borrow.

Sheila M. Averbuch is a children’s author and former technology journalist. Follow Sheila on Instagram, Twitter or YouTube or see her Scholastic Author Page here.

Main photo by Carissa Rogers on Flickr.

Cover reveal for my debut novel FRIEND ME

There are times when the writing journey has hard, tangible milestones, and seeing the cover of my debut for the first time has been one of those this-is-really-happening moments.

What do you think of it? It instantly gave me the right feels, down in my gut. FRIEND ME is the story of an Irish girl who moves to America and is badly bullied in middle school, and how she gets past it — and then gets into even worse trouble — with the help of her new BFF.

I love the smashed phone, the way Roisin is indistinct in the reflection, and the no-escape way she’s tunneled towards the girls whose actions (and inactions) come to define Roisin’s daily ordeal of school.

FRIEND ME has undercurrents of tech swirling in and around it, not least the social media apps that Roisin finds it hard to look away from, and the clinical shininess of the lockers accentuates that vibe. Tremendous thanks to the artists whose talent made this cover: the art was created by Mike Heath and the design is by Elizabeth B. Parisi and Yaffa Jaskoll.

FRIEND ME publishes 10 November 2020 in North America with Scholastic US. If you’re curious to read, you’d be doing me a favor if you add FRIEND ME to your to-read shelf on Goodreads .

Here’s what the legendary Elizabeth Wein has said about the book: “Friend Me is a heart-racing escalation from toxic teen power play and the dangers of social media to a darkly searing near-future thriller. A stunning debut.” Elizabeth wrote the New York Times bestselling Code Name Verity amongst other fantastic works (see a review of her middle-grade prequel to CNV, The Pearl Thief, here).

If you’d like to get regular updates on FRIEND ME, as well as recommended kidlit great reads from other authors, podcasts on children’s publishing and upcoming events for children’s writers, you can sign up for my quarterly kidlit newsletter here.

How important are covers in the books you choose to read?