The Impact of Social Media on Teens
Many parents worry about social media’s effects on their kids, particularly during adolescence when teens navigate increasing autonomy, developing identities, and building relationships.
Studies are ongoing into the positive and negative influences of social media on teenagers, so this article will present some of the most noteworthy findings thus far.
The Impact of Social Media on Self-Esteem
At this point in their development, teens are going through the process of identity formation and social media can both help and hinder this process. Social media offers teens opportunities for connecting with friends and being creative while at the same time creating problems such as drama, bullying and pressure to present a specific image.
Magazines and ads have long been criticized for setting unrealistic standards of beauty and success; now these impossible standards come much closer to home on social media, where teens curate their feeds to present only their best moments while hiding the struggles, difficulties, or everyday realities that go into life.
Teenagers may feel pressure to appear a certain way on social media when seeing other people engaging in unhealthy behaviors or dealing with emotional issues, while other teens-particularly girls-may be self-conscious about their looks due to airbrushing and filters used on photos posted to social media. Furthermore, studies indicate that engaging with other’s posts (by liking or commenting) can predict reduced appearance self-esteem.
The Impact of Social Media on Relationships
At first glance, many teens might view social media as a positive force in their lives; however, data shows some negative impacts. Particularly concerning is that nearly half of teenagers who use social media report it fueling drama in their relationships; this figure highlights one way digital platforms affect friendships and romantic partnerships and calls for increased education regarding how to promote healthy online communication.
An equally significant number of teens report feeling that their social media use is compulsive, interfering with important activities such as schoolwork and extracurriculars. A recent survey shows some adolescents being glued to their phones all day long; with some even sleeping with it under their pillows or close by.
Adolescence can be an especially vulnerable period for young people as they attempt to navigate increasing autonomy, create their identities, and form relationships. Furthermore, brain changes during this stage can make individuals particularly susceptible to stressors such as exams or family conflicts.
The Impact of Social Media on Learning
TikTok and Twitter provide important sources of entertainment and celebrity news for teens; yet social media platforms also play a vital role in their lives. Yet studies have linked teenagers’ use of these technologies with poor mental health outcomes including increased reassurance-seeking behavior, depressive symptoms and appearance comparisons.
Adolescent brains and social skills are still developing, so spending too much time in front of screens could potentially inhibit this development. According to studies conducted on teenage girls who spent more than three hours per day using social media were twice as likely to suffer depression and anxiety than other teens.
Most teens don’t believe social media has a detrimental effect on their mental health; in fact, approximately 35% believe its positive outcomes outweigh its downsides while 28% find neither beneficial nor detrimental consequences from using the medium.
The Impact of Social Media on Mental Health
Social media may offer numerous advantages to teens; however, some teens have reported negative consequences associated with its use as well. Such effects include lack of face-to-face communication, an increase in bullying incidents, and false information about others.
Teen mental health can also be affected by how often and for how long teens utilize social media. When adolescents spend too much time using technology like phones and other gadgets, sleep, physical activity, and other important elements can suffer as a result of constant screen time – leading them to live an unhealthy lifestyle and worsen overall health.
Growing evidence linking social media use to depression and anxiety has resulted in calls for companies to reconsider their platforms, with Surgeon General Vivek Murthy calling social media “the defining public health challenge of our time”, warning teenagers to prioritize mental wellbeing. Parents, teachers and professionals cannot ignore this critical matter.