In today’s digital age, the mental health struggles of children and teenagers have greatly increased, especially with the increased access that these age groups have to different social media platforms. This has created a situation where this population proportion has seen an increase in the challenge towards the mental and, at times, physical wellness of teenagers and children. While social media can be viewed as an interactive tool that can bring value in the sense of access to different parts of the world and different individuals, it has also led to negative exposure in the sense of creating a platform for issues such as cyberbullying and addiction (Deibert, 2019). In fact, teenagers and children nowadays face different mental issues, including those related to aspects such as depression, anxiety, and other such aspects. These issues are of great interest to the general functioning of society because they relate to aspects that inherently will affect how society is shaped as these children grow older and become adults. This paper explores the idea that the increase in the unregulated utilization of social media platforms is one of the biggest reasons child and teen mental health struggles.
Negativity of Social Media Usage amongst Children and Teenagers
The constant overreliance on social media platforms by teenagers and children has increased the chances of children being negatively impacted concerning their mental wellness. Studies have shown that the continued sense of exposure on different social media platforms can be viewed as an element that aggravates children’s and teenagers’ emotional well-being by exposing them to bad things (Kwan et al., 2020). Such an aspect is especially supported by the addictive nature of social media platforms, which generally constitutes creating an environment where the child stays with a desire to access social media platforms. This is an issue because social media creates different challenges, such as encouraging children to pursue certain ideas of the perfect self, leading to self-esteem issues and the growing need to compare themselves to others. Another notable issue is the general presence of cyberbullying on such sites, which affects the general wellness of children and teenagers by making them feel depressed and inadequate (Giumetti et al., 2022). It is also quite challenging that social media sites expose children to violence and nudity, which greatly affect their development. Due to such aspects, there has been the creation of an environment where the mental health of children and teenagers is no longer what it should be.
It is important to note that some people may argue against the rationalization of social media as a tool of evil in the sense of affecting the mental wellness of children and teenagers. This is presented in the claim that, as a tool, social media is only as harmful as the way it is used, meaning that harm is noted when and only when it is used in ways that are not keen on the elements of safety. Further, aspects such as a history of mental health issues in the family may be presented as one of the biggest reasons why some children and teenagers are affected by mental health issues.
In conclusion, the negative impact of social media on the mental health of children and teenagers is an issue that is rising among different populations in different parts of the world. In addition to its addictive nature, social media offers exposure outside what can be termed ideal for teenagers and children. This exposure includes exposure to pornographic material, cyberbullying, or even violence. While some may suggest that social media is not the problem for the continued decline in the mental health of people in this population proportion, it is arguably clear that social media usage among children and teenagers, when unregulated, poses a big threat to their mental health. It is due to this aspect that regulation must be considered. Children must be protected.
Deibert, R. J. (2019). Three painful truths about social media. J. Democracy, 30, 25.
Giumetti, G. W., & Kowalski, R. M. (2022). Cyberbullying via social media and wellbeing. Current Opinion in Psychology, 45, 101314.
Kwan, I., Dickson, K., Richardson, M., MacDowall, W., Burchett, H., Stansfield, C., … & Thomas, J. (2020). Cyberbullying and children and young people’s mental health: a systematic map of systematic reviews. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 23(2), 72-82.