Social Media Use and Teen’s Mental Health—What is the Impact?

Social media has become ubiquitous in recent years. The ubiquity of social media has had a great influence on the way we access information and communicate with people. While it helps connect with people across the globe, social media has become a matter of concern due to its profound impact on the mental health of teens.

Social Media Use and Teen's Mental Health—What is the Impact?

Mental health issues are on the rise among adolescents. Approximately 87% of young individuals suffered from some mental health issues in 2023.

Social media usage is to blame for poor mental health outcomes in teenagers. Adolescents and children who spend more than two hours on social media are at an increased risk of mental health issues.

All that said, we’ll discuss how social media affects teenagers’ mental health as well as share some tips for healthy social media use.

Adverse Effects of Social Media on Teen’s Mental Health

Social media use can harm the mental health of teenagers in numerous ways. Here, we’ll briefly discuss some adverse effects associated with the use of social media platforms:

1. Depression

Per the researchers of a recent publication of the MIT Sloan School of Management, access to Facebook leads to increased anxiety and depression in young adults and adolescents.

Recent studies have highlighted a correlation between social media use and negative effects on well-being, primarily anxiety and depression. Depression caused by social media use affects both male and female teenagers, but it impacts females more.

This mood disorder also affects LGBTQ+ individuals, and they struggle more than the average struggling adolescent. Depression is believed to be 40% higher among LGBTQ+ individuals than other teens.

Bullying on Facebook and other social media platforms contributes to depression in teens. It occurs when friends upload unflattering pictures, post mean or derogatory statements, or make negative comments. Seeing friends constantly post happy and boastful photos and status updates can make teens feel worse about themselves.

Dozens of parents have filed lawsuits against Facebook and Instagram. Meta– the creator of the two apps– is sued by parents for contributing to teen mental health crisis, notes TorHoerman Law.

Plaintiffs in the Instagram lawsuit and Facebook lawsuit blame Meta for engineering algorithms that generate addictive content, resulting in depression. Thirty-three states have sued Meta for knowingly inducing young children and teens into addictive and compulsive social media use.

Besides California and Illinois, the City of New York has sued the companies behind Instagram and Facebook. These states accuse them of exposing children to a non-stop stream of harmful content, which is fomenting a youth mental health crisis nationwide.

The litigation is in its early stages, so no settlement has been reached yet. However, the settlement amount can range from $10,000 to $100,000.

2. Anxiety

Excessive social media usage is linked with increased anxiety in teenagers.

Exposure to cyberbullying is one factor that contributes to anxiety in teens. A range of aggressive behaviors conducted through social media platforms is known as cyberbullying. These behaviors include derogatory messages, hurtful comments, sharing private information without consent, and threats of harm.

Victims of cyberbullying often experience heightened levels of stress and anxiety.

The pervasive nature of social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram has given rise to the fear of missing out. The incessant updates and posts on these platforms showcasing experiences, activities, and social interactions of peers drive FOMO, which contributes to feelings of anxiety and inadequacy.

3. Body Image Concerns

Evidence from 50 studies conducted in 17 countries demonstrates that social media use causes body image issues in young people aged between 10 and 24 years.

Those studies also link social media use with eating disorders or disordered eating. Self-objectification, thin or fit ideal internalization, and social comparison result in body image issues in young people.

Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram are flooded with pictures that project unrealistic body standards. These images of flawless skin, perfectly sculpted bodies, and curated appearances propagate a narrow definition of beauty. This impacts adolescents’ self-perception as well as psychological well-being.

Strategies for Healthy Social Media Use

Here’s how you can help your teen use social media responsibly and minimize the possible side effects on their psychological well-being.

  1. Limit your teenager’s screen time. Experts recommend limiting teens’ social media use to one to two hours daily. Thus, you should allow them to use social media for no more than two hours. This will help them stay connected with their friends without suffering the detrimental effects of excessive use.
  2. Implement digital well-being tools like Qustodio to monitor your child’s social media use and prevent exposure to inappropriate content.
  3. Have regular talks with your teen about social media. This will create a safe space for them, allowing them to share whatever worries or bothers them online.

Wrapping it up, social media can have a profound impact on a teenager’s mental health. Excessive social media usage is linked with depression, anxiety, and body image issues in them.

Be sure to set limits on screen time and focus on screen use to ensure your teen isn’t viewing anything inappropriate. Also, monitor your teen’s social media accounts to see whom they follow and interact with.

Don’t hesitate to seek professional help if your child shows signs of problematic social media use, such as insufficient sleep and a persistent desire to use social media.

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