Social media is the way teenagers communicate in today’s age. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, this is where they interact, form friendships and, in severe cases, bully others or get bullied themselves.
It can be good or bad, but no one can deny the fact that social media plays a major part in a teenager’s life today.
However, most people will be focused on the bad aspects. Because these are still kids that we are talking about ranging between the ages of 13 and 17.
How Is Social Media Bad for a Teen’s Mental Health?
To a developing teen’s brain, social media can be harmful in plenty of ways. Some of its most prominent negative aspects can be highlighted as:
- Teen Depression
Inciting depression in teens can very well be the worst impact of social media. According to a study, teenagers that used social media platforms were more likely to be diagnosed with depression. The more the usage, the more their mental health got affected. It clearly states that 14- to 17-year-olds that used social media for more than seven hours were twice as likely to had found themselves depressed, got treated for it, or took medication for their mental health issues.
Some researches link the use of smartphones for a longer duration as one of the causes of increased teen depression cases in recent years. So, as they checked their networking websites or apps more than a few times, they increased the time they look at their device screens. In turn, spending most of the time, deprived of face-to-face interactions and other healthy activities like sports, etc.
- Low Self Esteem & Anxiety
Feelings of depression, loneliness, and sadness do not come alone. A teenager’s excessive social media use can lead them to having low self-esteem. Being involved in no real worldly interactions, their developing minds do not learn how to catch verbal and facial cues. As they spend most of the time in front of a screen, teens can find it hard to speak their minds in a social gathering. Leading to all sorts of anxiety disorders and deteriorating self-esteem.
- Irregular Sleep Schedule (Insomnia)
Another way increased use of social media is affecting teens is pushing them “to be around” all the time. When interacting digitally, the merit of having a device to keep at their side is what’s actually working against them. The networking apps are available on their phones and they can access them anytime. Even when they are supposed to be sleeping. In the Journal of Youth Studies, a study was published regarding teens that said one-fifth of the teens just had to wake up during the night to check their social media. Meaning the availability of networking apps interrupts their sleep schedule and creates all sorts of issues for their health associated with sleep deprivation or irregular sleep patterns. And we know a good night’s sleep is a must for anyone—even more so for a growing teenager.
- Feelings of Jealousy
Jealousy or envy are very strong emotions and have driven people in the past to do the most horrible of acts. For a teen, these very same feelings can be a recipe for disaster. Social media gives them access to look at other people’s lives, especially people their own age, experiencing or possessing something they do not. This constant comparison can leave them feeling less fortunate than others. Forcing them to either isolate themselves from society or in most cases, act mean towards the other “more fortunate” people. Yes, it’s envy or jealousy that becomes the very reason we see bullying or cyberbullying among teenagers.
- Unfriending Culture
Networking sites have a great way to connect friends and family members. However, if things go awry, they leave you no choice but to unfriend a person you no longer want to be in contact with. This action can speak louder than anything else. So, when teens unfriend or unfollow their friends, the repercussions of this action go beyond the virtual world. This can mean the end of their friendship for real.
Now, few studies support while others deny that having friends on social media actually helps a teen’s social life and mental health. So, nothing concrete can be said for the time being.
- Addiction to Social Media
Many teens are on networking sites just to garner attention and acceptance from the people around them. Being the cool kid in class, or having a big friend circle, is every teenager’s wish. However, on social media, this concept has pushed young minds to pursue strange and dangerous ways to get other people’s attention or “likes” as they call it. May it be YouTube, Facebook, or Instagram, everybody wants to get a high number of likes on their post. And this drives them to use these sites, more and more, creating an addiction towards social media.
In the end, it’s all about parents connecting with their children to help them engage in real life activities. So, they can finally focus on things other than their computer or phone screens.