Social Media And Mental Health In Teens

Social Media Presence

Global participation in social media is a phenomenon that has taken contemporary culture by storm. What started as a way to share milestones and keep in contact with local and long-distance friends has evolved into an entire business industry. With nearly 70% of the U.S. population participating in social media, users are consuming content at a rapid rate.

Social media has many benefits. For teens who struggle with anxiety or lack opportunities for face-to-face interaction, the digital world is a great way to find community, connection, and support. It allows them to experiment with self-expression and become exposed to new ideas, cultures, and interests. Some researchers state that young users aren’t necessarily expanding their circle of friends so much as they are enriching their current experiences. However, there may be a link between the amount of time spent online and the development of certain mental health issues.

Potential Mental Health Problems

Regardless of the quality, users are more likely to engage with content if it already has a high number of likes and shares, sparking viral trends, Internet celebrities and “herd mentality.” With such easy access to influencers and their luxurious, sometimes unrealistic lifestyles, it’s important to examine the effects this can have on mental health.

With teens making up a large portion of all social media users, companies can easily target them with ads that blast body image, which could lead to envy and feelings of self-consciousness and inadequacy. Similarly, depression, loneliness, and anxiety are more prevalent in today’s teens than ever before. These issues, in particular, seem to be aggravated by excessive social media exposure.

While positive engagement on social media sites can cause a release of dopamine, teens could become addicted to seeking out approval from others. With constant access to “polling” information such as the number of likes and followers, it’s logical for a user to purposely convey a certain aesthetic or “brand” that strays from their natural personality. This can cause a heightened sense of insecurity and anxiety, especially in young girls, as they seem more susceptible to peer pressure and the high prevalence of cyberbullying.

Achieving Healthy Social Media Use

Social media doesn’t have to be a toxic gateway to mental health issues. By allocating time and resources appropriately, you can give it less power over your decisions. There are a few helpful practices you can put in place to achieve a healthier grip on social media, including parental controls and time limits. Instead of spending hours on social sites, try downloading apps that focus on improving your mind or physical well-being. Meditation or exercise apps can increase your awareness and focus. Putting your phone on “do not disturb” or airplane mode for a few hours per day or at bedtime could prevent aimlessly scrolling through notifications.

Try to engage in “real-life” social activities, rather than working to increase your online presence. Investing in hobbies, interests and face-to-face interaction outside of the Internet can equip you with better habits and interpersonal skills.

Today’s teens are more vulnerable to the side effects of social media, which could lead to serious mental health problems if left unchecked. However, by understanding and addressing these potential issues, parents and teens can achieve a healthier balance in their lives. Check out the accompanying infographic to learn more.

For more great health and family tips, be sure to read the other blogs on Cyber Parent.

Courtesy Of Douglas Psychotherapy Services

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