The emergence of social media has improved communication and raised awareness on several topics. Social media is the force behind the globalization of the world in terms of connecting people. While the benefits are evident, the impact on teenagers’ mental health is questioned. Parents are skeptical of the prolonged use of social media and how it might affect their young ones’ development.
Adolescence is a delicate stage that needs special care from parents. This stage is quite sensitive and can influence a child’s adulthood. Social media is becoming an essential part of this stage, and if misused, the effects can be devastating. Scientific studies showed that adolescents aged 14 – 21 have shown increased rates of depression, with an increase rate of 89.1% between 2009 and 2017. This survey also showed that this increase started after the advent of social media and the Great Recession. This proves that social media affects mental health.
This blog looks at how social media affects teens and solutions to regulate its rising use among adolescents.
BNI Treatment Centers offers teen mental health treatment in Los Angeles. Contact us today to learn more about our adolescent inpatient and outpatient mental health facilities.
The Role of Social Media on Adolescent Mental Health
So how does social media affect adolescent mental health? Almost all teens have a social media account they use to keep tabs on the latest happenings. However, this can cause addiction and reduce in-person communication. Additionally, teenagers could become lackadaisical in their responsibilities.
According to medical researchers, smartphones are addictive. Our brains release dopamine when we log into social media on our phones, making us think we reward ourselves each time we pick up our device. When addiction sets in, it is challenging to snap out of it. This could affect our mental health and interpersonal relationships with other people.
Regarding relationships, social media has made teens experts at indirect communication. They no longer communicate personally, which creates a nonverbal society where body language and facial expressions become invisible. Instead, they occupy themselves with texting and socializing online. Missing out on these crucial social skills or real-time interactions can affect a teen’s self-esteem and how to form lasting friendships – not online ones.
Information is another aspect. The information shared on social media can influence us in a good or bad way. Humans, especially adolescents, are obsessed with gratification, so they base their self-worth on the images they post and the likes they get. They filter and manipulate content before posting them to get commendations. When they get criticized, they retract and feel humiliated. They start questioning their bodies, often drawing comparisons to others, which lowers their self-esteem. It is common among females. It can lead to depression and suicide.
Social media eases access to information and people, which is positive. But when used in the wrong context, it can harm people. The advent of social media has presented opportunities and traps. For teenagers, it pressurizes them to do things they shouldn’t have – to become who they want to appear as and not who they are. It is more like the imposter syndrome. Self-esteem stirs from whom you are. The more identities you create to impress others, the harder it is to feel good about yourself.
Signs that Social Media is Affecting Teenagers
We’ve answered, “How does social media affect adolescent mental health.” Now is the time to observe your teens more closely. First, as parents, look for behavioral changes in your young ones. Below are signs to look out for:
- Your child spends hours on social media at the expense of in-person communication.
- They seem lazy and prioritize chatting online over other activities.
- They have suicidal thoughts and talk about escaping from the pains of this world.
- Your child spends more time alone than associating with others.
Tips for Better Social Media Use
Social media is here to stay, but we can regulate how teens can minimize their use for their mental health. For teens, staying away from social media can help preserve their mental health. Here are other things parents and teens should do;
- For parents, create a template for appropriate social media use for their children. Develop a schedule and make them understand it is essential for their upbringing.
- They should speak to their children about the importance of safeguarding their privacy and the effects of cyberbullying.
- Become a model to your teens. Keep phones off the table during dinner, make your presence felt, and make out enough time for the family. Kids are watching your every move.
- Switch on time controls so that you’ll be logged out when you reach the limit. Set a reasonable time.
Teens can still use social media positively. All it takes is some discipline and consistency. If your teen still finds it hard to curb social media use, contact a medical expert like those in BNI Treatment Centers to help with your addiction. If you still want more answers regarding how social media affects adolescent mental health, contact us now, and one of our staff will be glad to attend to you.