Social media has become a daily part of life for many teens in the current world. As per the 2018 Pew Research Center survey, it shows that 97% of teens use social media platforms such as Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat and Facebook. Besides, this is not a surprise to note that the dependence on social media of the teens exceeds that of the adults with a considerable percentage. These teens are using social media at a greater rate, which has resulted in some physical and mental effects. Moreover, these teens are over-concerned about social media platforms, and they tend to spend most of their time online, which impairs other significant life areas. As a result, teens who spend more time on social media are more likely to suffer anxiety and depression due to increased pressure, cyberbullying and become inadequate.
Social media platforms have an emphasizing nature whereby using it activates the brain’s reward centre, releasing dopamine chemicals linked with pleasurable activities like social interaction, sex and food. These enjoyable activities are likely to cause depression and anxiety. However, this puts teens at high risk of suffering from anxiety and depression. Additionally, teens spend less time connecting with their peers since they devote most of their time linking electronically over social media podiums. People who devote most of their time on internet experience less emotionally satisfying lives, which makes them feel socially isolated (Pignatiello, 2020). They live an empathetic life which causes them to lack the benefits of social interactions, and teens may feel isolated.
Cyberbullying leads to depression in teens. Teens may be verbally abused, intimidated, threatened and harassed on online platforms, which can weaken their psyche and lead to many issues like depression. Besides social media networks becoming more fun for teens, they cannot escape cyberbullying, making them have more negative thoughts about their social life. Such thoughts can lead to suicide and teens feeling insecure. Since it is not easy to identify online harassers, teens may think that everyone is against them, and therefore they can develop bad attitudes toward people, which may affect their social interaction (Cantor, 2017). The persistent harassment can be scary and heart-breaking to the teens, and they may experience feelings that can cause depression. A depressed teen may appear to be angry, sad and irritable. They are also not interested in things they were usually interested in before engaging in social media platforms. They also have sleep issues, which may affect their reading timelines since they are often surrounded by negative thoughts or spend more time on social media.
Social media makes teens feel inadequate about their appearance and their life. Most of the images on social media platforms are manipulated; hence a teen might feel insecure about what is going on in their life and how they look. Additionally, most social media users tend to share highlights of their lives but not the low points that they experience in their lives; this makes teens feel unsatisfied about their social lives and their living standards. Teens may also feel envy when scrolling these images. For instance, a teen’s friend posting an airbrushed photo of their tropical beach holiday or in super hotels may affect them since they will feel inferior. Despite teens being aware that most of these images are manipulated, they tend to feel inadequate, and they may engage in illegal activities like drug trafficking to earn more cash to live the lifestyles they see on social media.
Social media leads to fear of missing out on events. Facebook and Instagram have far-reaching effects on the fear of missing out. Instagram and Facebook seem to exaggerate the feeling that other people have more smooth and more fun lives than others. The perception that someone is missing out on some things may influence self-esteem and affect the level of anxiety of someone. At the same time, such feelings might lead to greater use of social media. Moreover, the fear of missing out compels teens to be on their phones to check updates regularly and to respond to the news alerts. However, this might be risky to the teens since they may miss out on sleep at night or even be driving. Social media can lead to self-absorption. Since people share endless selfies on their platforms, it can cause innermost thoughts, leading to an unhealthy lifestyle. Additionally, people can discharge themselves from real-life situations. Self-centeredness has proved to have such an effect on teens.
Despite the effects of social media on teenagers, they are also connected to very important psychological development. The online environment offers a variety of skills and benefits to teens, like developing better social skills, having fun, bonding with friends, being creative and sharing their ideas and feelings with others (Nesi, 2020). Furthermore, they learn more about world events and current affairs that are outside their surroundings.
Social media has influenced the lives of teens in several ways. Depression and anxiety have negatively impacted the lives of teens in their lives. Teens are suffering from depression due to social media platforms. The anxiety that teens get from social media also influences their living standards. Other effects include fear of missing out, self-absorption and cyberbullying. Peers and parents should play a critical role in restoring teens from social media platforms and creating a healthy social interaction to avoid all these side effects of social media.
Abi-jaoude, E., Naylor, K. T., & Pignatiello, A. (2020). Smartphones, social media use and youth mental health. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 192(6), E136-E141. https://doi.org/10.1503/cmaj.190434
Hoge, E., Bickham, D., & Cantor, J. (2017). Digital media, anxiety, and depression in children.
Nesi, J. (2020). The impact of social media on youth mental health: Challenges and opportunities. North Carolina Medical Journal, 81(2), 116-121. https://doi.org/10.18043/ncm.81.2.116
Pediatrics, 140(Supplement_2), S76-S80. https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2016-1758G